Phoebe Mozee (aka: Annie Oakley). Famed for her marksmanship by 12 years old, she once shot the ashes off of Kaiser Wihelm II’scigarette at his invitation. When she outshot famed exhibition marksman Frank Butler, he fell in love with her and they married. They remained married the rest of their lives.
Phoebe Anne Mozee was a world famous markswoman and entertainer who was better known by her stage name of “Annie Oakley.”
Mozee was born on August 13, 1860, in Darke County, Ohio to Quaker parents. Some scholars believe her last name was actually Moses. Throughout her life, she and her family spelled the last name in both ways. Mozee received a limited formal education, but she became an expert markswoman at a young age. Considering the Quakers’ opposition to violence, Mozee’s proficiency with a gun is somewhat surprising. She assisted her parents in paying off the mortgage on the family farm by selling wild game that she killed.
By the mid 1870s, Mozee had earned a name for herself due to her shooting skills. In 1875, she won a contest against Frank Butler, a marksman who earned a living by performing in circuses. Butler convinced Mozee to travel with him across the country, demonstrating her skills. The two performers later were married.
In 1885, the couple joined “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s Wild West Show. Mozee became known as “Miss Annie Oakley, the Peerless Lady Wing-Shot.” Oakley took her stage name from the Oakley neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she had previously lived. In her act, Oakley routinely split a card in two edge-wise with a single shot from thirty paces. She shot cigarettes out of her husband’s mouth. On a tour of Europe, she performed this same trick with Crown Prince Wilhelm, who later became Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Oakley also shot dimes thrown into the air. Due to her proficiency with a gun, she emerged as the first female U.S. superstar and was worshipped by young and old people around the world. She also became a spokesperson for allowing women to serve in the armed forces, including in combat positions.
Mozee also starred in one of the first Kinetoscope films in history. In 1894, she starred in Thomas Alva Edison’s “The “Little Sure Shot” of the “Wild West,” exhibition of rifle shooting at glass balls, etc.” In honor of her many achievements and her legacy, Mozee’s life has been documented in film on several different occasions. A Broadway play, “Annie Get Your Gun,” was also produced about her life.
Oakley remained with the Wild West Show until 1901, when she became partially paralyzed after an automobile accident. She eventually recovered and returned to show business. She died on November 3, 1926.