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Is Marshal Courtright From Yellowstone Prequel 1883 A Historical Figure?

"1883" is as much a prequel series to Paramount's "Yellowstone" as it is a love letter to the Western classics that inspired the hit drama series in the first place. The new spinoff delivers a retelling of western expansion and the American Dream. It follows the full story of how the Dutton family first laid their claim for Yellowstone ranch — without pulling any punches or obscuring any messy details. 

The story looks to be as brutal and uncompromising as the wild west itself — which is essentially the point. The prequel is entirely focused on bringing the story of the Duttons back to the genre's roots, and the showrunners have gone above and beyond to make sure the series is not only a nod to the "Yellowstone" we know and love but a realistic depiction of the brutality of western expansion.

In fact, the series' commitment to realism is so profound that the showrunners even based one of their characters on a real-life historical figure — a legendary gunman out of the old west, which a legendary actor plays.

Marshal Jim Courtright was a real life gunslinger

In "1883," Billy Bob Thornton plays Marshal Jim Courtright, a very real gunman from American history. Born Timothy Isaiah Courtwright (via the Texas State Historical Association), the Illinois native eventually became known as Longhair Jim due to confusion over his first name and how he wore his locks. After serving in the Civil War, Courtright went on to become the marshal in Fort Worth, Texas. The gunslinger was reportedly faster on the draw than Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok, two of the most famous names from the old west.

When Courtright lost his fourth run for marshal, he headed to New Mexico, one of his worst decisions. After being accused of two murders, he headed back to Fort Worth, but his hide-out plans didn't work. He was arrested by the Texas Rangers and an official from New Mexico, but Courtright was broken out of custody thanks to some lawless pals. 

In 1887, Courtright was killed in a duel against his former friend Luke Short. The TSHA called it "one of the most famous gunfights in western history" and "one of the few face-to-face shootouts."

It's uncertain how much of Courtright's real life will make it into the plot of "1883," but it's clear his legend embodies the old west — so it's no wonder why the showrunners decided to bring his story to the silver screen.

The first two episodes of "1883" are now streaming on Paramount+.