Davy Crockett’s Almanack first came out while the frontiersman was alive, and after his famous death at the Alamo, we would say today that "it went viral." In it, he would ride bears and alligators into battle, shoot lightning from his eyes to blow up British ships, and perform all kinds of wonderously absurd feats that Batman could only dream of. Thanks to Disney, he became the first full-blown media craze of American kids everywhere in the late 50s and early 60s. For a while "Born on a mountaintop in Tennessee…" was sung almost as often as "Happy Birthday." The real David Crockett (he actually disliked being called "Davy") is a character well worth being acquainted with. Most folks don’t know that when he gave one of best (and shortest) concession speeches in American history – "You may all go to hell; and I will go to Texas!" he had just lost his congressional seat for taking an unpopular position – he had eloquently sided with the Cherokee Indians in the "Trail of Tears" disaster.

Later, men like Kit Carson, James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok, and William H. "Billy the Kid" Bonney would all be the subject of "bigger than life" stories, many written up while they too were still alive.
American fictional heroes arising out of historical fact has often occurred in untold ways and in subtle influences. In the late 1920s Marion Mitchell Morrison was a teenage kid in Los Angeles trying to get a break for himself making cheap Saturday matinee western clips. There was this old dude hanging around the sets whom, the kid was told, had actually "been there and done that." He consciously began to imitate the old man’s odd walk and laconic drawl. That is how "Duke" Morrison – aka John Wayne – got the signatures of his on-screen persona… from an old timer named Wyatt Earp.