On April 28, 1881, 21-year-old Henry McCarty, alias Billy the Kid, just days from being hanged for murder, outfoxed his jailors and electrified the nation with the latest in a long line of daring escapes. Just a few weeks later, the notorious young outlaw was gunned down by an ambitious sheriff. The Kid was soon mythologized by a never-ending stream of dime-store romances and later, big-screen dramas. But in all the narratives, Billy the Kid’s real story has been obscured. This program deconstructs the mythology surrounding the infamous desperado.
"Billy the Kid" on American Experience airs at 7:00 p.m.
"Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid" on American Experience airs at 8:00 pm
Long before Paul Newman and Robert Redford immortalized them on screen, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid captivated Americans from coast to coast. In the 1890s, their exploits — robbing banks and trains in the West and then seemingly vanishing into thin air — became national news and the basis of rumors and myth. But who were Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh? How did they come together to form the Wild Bunch gang? And how did they manage to pull off the longest string of successful holdups in history while eluding the Pinkertons, the nation’s most feared detective force? Separating fact from fiction, the latest installment of AMERICAN EXPERIENCE’s popular The Wild West series explores the last pair of outlaws to flee on horseback into a setting sun.