top of page

New Photo of Giuseppina Morlacchi



This is a photo of Giuseppina Morlacchi, wife of Texas Jack and prima ballerina star of the original western, The Scouts of the Prairie. This particular image has never been digitized and was recently purchased at the Baltimore Antique Arms Show by collector Dr. Tony Sapienza. Tony has generously shared the image with me and given me permission to share it with all of you.


When The Scouts of the Prairie opened in Chicago in December of 1872, Morlacchi was the only trained actor in the main cast. Her costars, the play's author Ned Buntline, the famous hunter turned scout Buffalo Bill Cody, and the famous cowboy turned scout Texas Jack Omohundro, had no dramatic training and no idea what they were doing. They famously forgot every line on opening night, only to discover that the audiences were more interested in seeing real heroes than fine actors.


Giuseppina, who was often billed as "The Peerless" Morlacchi, was a trained prima ballerina, and had conquered the theaters and opera houses of Europe before coming to America to star in an early stage musical called "The Devil's Auction." She created an immediate sensation in New York City, where she was serenaded by the New York Philharmonic, and her legs were insured for $100,000, leading one commentator to proclaim that her legs were worth "more than Kentucky!"


There are several pictures from that first season showing Giuseppina in costume as Dove Eye, described by critics as “the beautiful Indian maiden with an Italian accent and weakness for scouts." The following season, Morlacchi married her costar, Texas Jack, and agreed to rejoin his show, still with Buffalo Bill Cody but now having replaced Ned Buntline with the famous lawman and gunslinger Wild Bill Hickok. The plot of the play was similar, but names were changed, and the character of Dove Eye was replaced with Pale Dove. It is unknown if this image is from the first or second season. The costume matches images from the first season, but the name at the bottom indicates the character she played in the second.




In closing, we extend our heartfelt thanks to Tony Sapienza for his invaluable contribution to preserving the rich tapestry of the American West. Through his generous sharing of the never-before-seen photograph of Giuseppina Morlacchi, we gain not just a glimpse into the life of Texas Jack Omohundro's illustrious wife but also a deeper insight into the legacy she carved in the annals of American popular culture. Giuseppina Morlacchi, "The Peerless" Morlacchi, not only dazzled audiences across America and Europe with her balletic prowess but also played a pivotal role in shaping the narrative of Western shows, bringing sophistication and artistry to the stage shows about the rugged frontier. Her journey from the grand opera houses of Europe to the heart of the American West, alongside legends like Texas Jack, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Wild Bill Hickok, showcases the blending of cultures and the birth of a uniquely American form of entertainment that continues to captivate our imaginations. This article, illuminated by Dr. Sapienza's generosity, serves as a tribute to her indelible impact on the cultural landscape of the West.


For readers intrigued by the dynamic life and times of Texas Jack and the colorful figures who shared his world, further exploration can be found in "Texas Jack: America's First Cowboy Star," available on Amazon. This book delves deeper into the legacy of these iconic personalities whose lives painted the canvas of the American frontier with bold strokes of adventure, heroism, romance, and unparalleled showmanship.





34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page