It is one of the most enduring stories to emerge from the American Wild West.
But the death of Butch Cassidy may not be quite as dramatic as we have been told.
A lost manuscript claims that the outlaw did not die in a gunfight in a shootout alongside his partner in Bolivia in 1908.
Mystery: This undated photo of William T Phillips (left) was taken from the Larry Pointer Collection. The image on the right is of Butch Cassidy when he was in prison. According to the Bandit Invincible manuscript, Butch fled South America to Europe where he has plastic surgery. This would go some way to explain the change in appearance between the two images
The scene was immortalised by Hollywood in 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with Paul Newman and Robert Redford running out into a hail of bullets after being cornered by troops.
Instead, in a plot which could also have come straight out of a movie, Cassidy is said to have fled to France where he had surgery on his face before sneaking back into the U.S. Furthermore, according to the same account, he lived out his final days quietly and anonymously in Washington State – and wrote an autobiography which he disguised as a biography.
American rare books expert Brent Ashworth and author Larry Pointer have obtained a 200-page manuscript from 1934 called Bandit Invincible: The Story of Butch Cassidy written by a William T Phillips which they claim was actually written by Cassidy.
Certain death? New evidence has emerged that Butch Cassidy may have survived the shootout so famously portrayed by Paul Newman and Robert Redford (l-r)
Wild times: This is a famous photo taken of Cassidy and his gang in Fort Worth, Texas in 1900. This is said to show Bill Carver, top left, the Sundance Kid, bottom left, and Butch Cassidy, bottom right. The other two members of the gang are not identified
They claim the book is Cassidy’s own story of his life as an outlaw.
It describes how after surviving the shootout in Bolivia he went to Paris and had his face altered then went back to the U.S. and reunited with an old girlfriend, Gertrude Livesay.
The authors say they married in Michigan in 1908 and moved to Spokane in Washington state in 1911. He apparently died in 1937, aged 71.
Paul Newman: Butch Cassidy according to Hollywood
Redford, left, and Newman in a still from the 1969 film. Stories abound of Sundance living long after his time in South America. But they’re outnumbered by purported Cassidy sightings. A brother and sister of Cassidy’s insisted he visited them at a family ranch in 1925
Iconic: Redford (left) and Newman (right) gave memorable performances as the legendary outlaws
Its discovery is the latest of many theories surrounding the life and death of the two outlaws. It is also claimed by other writers that Sundance survived.
Cassidy was born Robert LeRoy Parker in 1866 in Utah, the oldest of 13 children in a Mormon family. He robbed his first bank in 1889 in Telluride, Colorado, and fell in with cattle rustlers who hid out at The Hole in the Wall, a refuge in northern Wyoming’s Johnson County. For 20 years, his Wild Bunch gang held up banks and trains across the West and in South America.
Despite the claims of Pointer and Ashworth, not all are convinced by the manuscript’s authenticity.
‘Total horse pucky,’ said Cassidy historian Dan Buck. ‘It doesn’t bear a great deal of relationship to Butch Cassidy’s real life, or Butch Cassidy’s life as we know it.’