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Remembering Louis L'Amour

And now a page from our Sunday Morning Almanac ... March 22nd, 1908, 101 years ago today, the day the Old West got a new lease on life.

The future author Louis L'Amour was born that day in Jamestown, North Dakota, where he grew up hearing stories of the frontier from the people who had settled it.

As an itinerant worker on land and sea, L'Amour wrote adventure stories on the side.

In 1953 his short story "The Gift of Cochise" became the motion picture "Hondo," starring John Wayne.

Other movie adaptations followed, and L'Amour went on to write more than a HUNDRED books, which have sold more than TWO HUNDRED MILLION copies.

Along the way he punctured many popular western myths ... as he told Morley Safer on 60 Minutes back in 1976:

"One of the myths I always like to get away from is the idea that a gunfighter or a group of gunfighters can come in and terrorize a western town. It just couldn't happen. Because, you see, just about everybody in that town grew up using a gun."
In a gun duel, L'Amour said, accurate aim was more important than who was fastest on the draw:
"Many a man who drew very fast put his first bullet in the dust in front of him and never got off another one."
And what about all those saloon dancing girls we see in the movies?
"Well, there were some of those around, no doubt about it. But they were very rarely as attractive as they were in the movies, and they weren't dressed as they were in the movies. They usually wore long dresses clear down to their ankles, and there weren't many women in the saloons."
Although he wasn't taken seriously by the literary critics, L'Amour had one very influential fan in President Ronald Reagan, who awarded him the Medal of Freedom in 1984.

Louis L'Amour died in 1988 at the age of 80 ... but his stories of the frontier live on today ... on bookstore shelves from East ... to West.

For more info:

  • Spotlight on Louis L'Amour (Bantam Books)
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