Death of a Gunfighter (1969) Was Based On An Interracial Romance
Well, if this isn’t a little gem of info… When I was a little girl and my sister Stella pointed out that Richard Widmark was the love interest of Lena Horne in the movie we were watching – Death of a Gun Fighter; I was clueless as to its significance. I was shocked some 40 years later to find the movie was loosely based on a true story! I don’t at all praise a slave owner’s affairs with their slaves as was the common and typical scenario on many a plantation. But having researched black women white man relationships of the time, I know that many actually married. The romance of Garrett Lane Scott and Mary Bowen seems to have been a tragic affair.
The citizens of Grimes County, Texas wanted their 5 time elected Sheriff Garrett out. He was a Republican who had Negro friends (looked out for them) and was the lover of a Negro woman. Talk about a 3 Strikes Rule for Reconstruction, Garrett was asking for it. But after so much death and devastation in a battle fueled by hatred of those in the county, maybe Garrett was either convinced to leave Mary and their son, or he did not have the love strong enough to take her away and live their lives. Who knows why they did not marry? Maybe he was just using the benefit of his position to abuse a Negress, have his fun and never considered marriage. We know that Garrett lost his brother in the fight. That may have made a difference. The child born of the Garrett Scott and Mary Bowen was given his father’s last name. Ebbie Scott became a musician in the area. Wowzers!!
More importantly, I learned of yet another mass exodus of black people (communities) run out of town by violence and hate filled racists. This story is repeated in several towns and cities in the U.S., mainly in the southern states. Blacks left property and livelihoods to save themselves and their families. Shameful chapter in our History but it is what it is.
Thanks to Russell Cushman who researched, created the informative video For The Love of Mary and producing a fabulous song by Reagan Cushman “This Dream of You”. Finally, I found that the 7th great granddaughter of Garrett Scott, Katina Adams acknowledges him in flowers sent to his “Find a Grave“ page. Watch the video and and movie trailer. And by all means find a copy of the movie Death of a Gunfighter.
For the Love of Mary video by Russell Cushman