The Western Wyoming Community College Honors Program will present a special cultural event on Tuesday, April 19, when Calamity Jane aficionado and Riverton, Wyo. resident Norma Slack Haskell visits campus to present and discuss a variety of cinematic interpretations of Martha Canary, better known as Calamity Jane, that have graced the silver screen during the past several decades. The program will be held in Room 1302 at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
Calamity Jane was born in 1856 Missouri, became an orphan at age 11, and made a name for herself – fairly or not - as a fearless, hard-drinking, gun-toting hellion in Old West towns like Deadwood. She ultimately was remembered – and quite possibly misremembered – as one of the most notorious personalities in all of the American West. Even so, Jane is also remembered for her kindness toward others, a characteristic that does not always shine through in her on-screen representations.
Haskell, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre/English Education from the University of Wyoming, is a great-great niece of Jane, and she has portrayed her legendary ancestor in Wild West shows and reenactments for many years. Haskell bases her performances on extensive research and many family stories, and she will bring all of that knowledge to bear when she analyzes others’ portrayals of Calamity Jane in Tuesday’s presentation. As Haskell will demonstrate, cultural and historical views of Jane remain relevant to discussions of gender even today.