There is much mystery about the life of Martha Jane Cannary, better known as Calamity Jane. She was a Wild West legend of both fact and fiction, whose name and reputation are often associated with the town of Deadwood, South Dakota.
She is credited with being a hard drinker and skilled with guns, but she also displayed compassion towards others. For example, in 1878 she volunteered to nurse the sick and injured in Deadwood. She was also said to have a keen eye for people who were suffering from smallpox, and she cared for them day and night until they died.
Calamity Jane is portrayed in several films, television shows, and video games. She appears in the 1953 Doris Day film Calamity Jane, as well as in the 1961 series Have Gun, Will Travel and in the 1966 Batman series.
Her biographical facts are not entirely accurate, but she remained popular in the town of Deadwood through the late 1800s and was associated with James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok. Their relationship lasted just a few weeks, but they would both become ensconced in the town's folklore and their names are still associated with each other.
Calamity Jane's life is a blur of legend, self-promotion and speculation, but she was a larger-than-life figure who had plenty of enemies and friends. She was also a woman of action, sure shot and a tough horsewoman who lived her life as an independent, sometimes alcoholic, but always resourceful and daring woman.