Biography

Bill Cody, whose real name was Frederick Garfield Penniman but later changed his name to honor his favorite character out of the Old West, ran away from the Onondaga Indian reservation in Syracuse, New York, where he was born August 6, 1913, to live with an uncle in Springfield, Massachusetts. The 15-year-old, who was three-quarters Indian, ran away from his uncle's home a year later to join the circus."

He began announcing and working rodeos. The stunt work he learned being thrown off bucking broncos landed him a job as a stunt man in movies.

He doubled for both cowboys and Indians in movies filmed during the 1930s and '40s.

Cody then took his act on the road, developing a sharp-shooting, knife-throwing, whip-cracking show for vaudeville, burlesque and Wild West tent shows."

Cody had a dream of becoming a colonel like his idol, Buffalo Bill, but was turned down when he tried to enlist in the military during World War II. However, his wish was partially fulfilled when then-Gov. Wendell Ford made Cody a Kentucky Colonel in 1972.

He died Tuesday, October 25, 1988, at Welborn Baptist Hospital, Evansville. His wife, Alice Collins Penniman, was accidently shot with her own gun by a curious 9-year old boy during a rodeo tour and died in 1959.