JOHN HENRY “DOC” HOLLIDAY
John Henry Holliday was born into a well-to-do Georgia family that lost its fortune following the Civil War. Doc was sent
to study dentistry in Philadelphia so that he might learn a trade, as there was little hope of him inheriting anything more than
the genteel manners of his forebears. It was probably during his stay in the city that he contracted tuberculosis.
Advised by doctors that the arid southwest climate might ease his suffering and prolong his life, Holliday relocated to
Dallas, Texas and resumed his trade as a dentist. He soon abandoned his practice and became a professional gambler,
finding it a more lucrative profession. Growing ever more gloomy and fatalistic, he began drinking heavily in an effort to
quell the constant cough that accompanied his disease. This combination of drink, lifestyle and morbid outlook served as the
cornerstone of his gun-fighting career.
Deciding that death by gun or knife would be quick and less painful than dying of tuberculosis, Doc soon found himself
embroiled in hostile situations that his massive intake of alcohol almost certainly escalated. Ironically, he was usually the
victor in most of the contests, his acceptance of mortality giving him an edge over his opponents. He took gutsy chances at
the gambling tables, sometimes playing for days on end for high stakes and winning. In one alleged episode, Doc
threatened a hot-headed gambler named Ed Bailey who he suspected of cheating. Bailey, thinking the frail, sickly Holliday
would be a pushover, ignored the threat and stood up, reaching across the table to attack him. Holliday pulled a concealed
knife from his vest and gutted Bailey, killing him.
Doc would spend the next few years of his life following the
professional gambling circuit to Denver, Cheyenne and
Deadwood, eventually ending up back in Texas where he met a
young lawman named Wyatt Earp. The unemotional,
level-headed Earp and the fatalistic, impulsive Holliday became
unlikely friends. Wyatt in