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Billy the Kid and Geronimo Deconstructed on PBS Specials

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Billy the Kid and Geronimo

PBS's series "American Experience" will be airing original programming focusing on deconstructing the mythology of the legendary bad boys of the Old West to air in January.  The" American Experience" will focus on the legends of Billy the Kid and the legendary Chiricahuan leader Geronimo.

Billy the Kid's story will be the first to air on Tuesday, January 10 at 9pm ET.  "American Experience: Billy The Kid" will focus on the famous outlaw's fascination with Mexican culture, his flair for Spanish and his disdain for the Anglo authorities made him a hero of sorts to the Hispanic community, who hid him when the law came looking and mourned him when he was gone. Demonized by the lawman who killed him, the Kid was mythologized by a never-ending stream of dime-store romances and later, big-screen dramas. But in all the narratives, Billy the Kid’s real story has been obscured.

On April 28, 1881, 21-year-old Henry McCarty, alias Billy the Kid, just days from being hanged for murder, outfoxed his jailors and electrified the nation with the latest in a long line of daring escapes. Just a few weeks later, the notorious young outlaw was gunned down by an ambitious sheriff. Born to impoverished Irish immigrants, the Kid led a hardscrabble, itinerant life that became harder still when his mother died of tuberculosis. He came of age in a lawless corner of New Mexico, where an Irish immigrant ring held a vise-like grip on all money-making endeavors and the Mexican population was frequently cheated out of their property without recourse to the courts. Caught in the middle of a many-centuries-old Irish-English conflict playing out on the plains of the Southwest, the Kid captured national attention with his reckless violence.

Geronimo's story will be told in "American Experience: Geronimo" the following week on Tuesday, January 24 at 9pm ET. Born around 1820, Geronimo grew into a leading warrior and healer of the Chiricahua. But after his tribe was relocated to an Arizona reservation in 1872, he became a focus of the fury of terrified white settlers and of the growing tensions that divided Apaches struggling to survive under almost unendurable pressures. To angry whites, Geronimo became the archfiend, perpetrator of unspeakable savage cruelties. To his supporters, he remained the embodiment of proud resistance, the upholder of the old Chiricahua ways. To other Apaches, especially those who had come to see the white man's path as the only viable road, Geronimo was a stubborn troublemaker, unbalanced by his unquenchable thirst for vengeance, whose actions needlessly brought the enemy's wrath down on his own people. At a time when surrender to the reservation and acceptance of the white man's civilization seemed to be the Indians' only realistic options, Geronimo and his tiny band of Chiricahuas fought on. The final holdouts, they became the last Native-American fighting force to capitulate formally to the government of the United States. 


AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: BILLY THE KID
Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
Check your local listings

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: GERONIMO
Tuesday, January 24, 2012, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
Check your local listings

Billy the Kid's story will be the first to air on Tuesday, January 10 at 9pm ET.  "American Experience: Billy The Kid" will focus on his fascination with Mexican culture, his flair for Spanish and his disdain for the Anglo authorities made him a hero of sorts to the Hispanic community, who hid him when the law came looking and mourned him when he was gone. Demonized by the lawman who killed him, the Kid was mythologized by a never-ending stream of dime-store romances and later, big-screen dramas. But in all the narratives, Billy the Kid’s real story has been obscured.

On April 28, 1881, 21-year-old Henry McCarty, alias Billy the Kid, just days from being hanged for murder, outfoxed his jailors and electrified the nation with the latest in a long line of daring escapes. Just a few weeks later, the notorious young outlaw was gunned down by an ambitious sheriff. Born to impoverished Irish immigrants, the Kid led a hardscrabble, itinerant life that became harder still when his mother died of tuberculosis. He came of age in a lawless corner of New Mexico, where an Irish immigrant ring held a vise-like grip on all money-making endeavors and the Mexican population was frequently cheated out of their property without recourse to the courts. Caught in the middle of a many-centuries-old Irish-English conflict playing out on the plains of the Southwest, the Kid captured national attention with his reckless violence.

Geronimo's story will be told in "American Experience: Geronimo" the following week on Tuesday, January 24 at 9pm ET. Born around 1820, Geronimo grew into a leading warrior and healer of the Chiricahua. But after his tribe was relocated to an Arizona reservation in 1872, he became a focus of the fury of terrified white settlers and of the growing tensions that divided Apaches struggling to survive under almost unendurable pressures. To angry whites, Geronimo became the archfiend, perpetrator of unspeakable savage cruelties. To his supporters, he remained the embodiment of proud resistance, the upholder of the old Chiricahua ways. To other Apaches, especially those who had come to see the white man's path as the only viable road, Geronimo was a stubborn troublemaker, unbalanced by his unquenchable thirst for vengeance, whose actions needlessly brought the enemy's wrath down on his own people. At a time when surrender to the reservation and acceptance of the white man's civilization seemed to be the Indians' only realistic options, Geronimo and his tiny band of Chiricahuas fought on. The final holdouts, they became the last Native-American fighting force to capitulate formally to the government of the United States.  


AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: BILLY THE KID
Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
Check your local listings

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: GERONIMO
Tuesday, January 24, 2012, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET
Check your local listings

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