The story of Dora Hand

Kathie Bell
Special to the Globe
An early poster of the The Story of Dora Hand. SUBMITTED PHOTO

She was the victim of the most notorious crime in Dodge City. And a movie made about her and the crime against her garnered an Oscar nomination.

The woman was Dora Hand, also known as Fannie Keenan, and the motion picture was named "The Woman of the Town," a United Artists full-length movie released on the last day of 1943.

It starred Claire Trevor as Hand, Albert Dekker as Bat Masterson and Barry Sullivan as her suitor/killer. Glenn Strange, famous later for his role in "Gunsmoke," played a small part as "Walker." Charley Foy portrayed his father Eddie Foy Sr.

One would have to call this motion picture "historical fiction" because, though it was based on actual events, the plot radically deviated from what actually happened.

Yes, Dora Hand did get shot dead while sleeping in Dodge City. She was killed by James Kenedy on Oct. 4, 1878.

However, the movie names her killer "King Kennedy." In this motion picture version, which Bat Masterson's narrates in retrospect, Masterson proposed to her. Though she loved him and wanted to marry him, she saw no future in such a love partnership because Masterson's uncle forbade her from setting foot in Kansas City.

Apparently the uncle saw Hand as a shady character and didn't want Bat to have anything to do with her.

Bat couldn't or wouldn't leave Kansas City because he worked at newspaper owned by this uncle.

So Hand began a relationship with Kennedy. After Kennedy accidentally killed her (which is about the only thing that really happened) Bat, who came to Dodge, buried his guns and left Dodge City.

Historically, Bat Masterson was definitely not a suitor of Dora Hand and there was no uncle who Bat worked for in Kansas City. This writer believes if Masterson indeed loved her, he would have chosen her over a career at his uncle's newspaper.

Furthermore, Bat did not bury his guns and leave Dodge after the death of Hand. But this story made an entertaining script.

Though "The Woman of the Town" did not win, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated the musical score, written by Miklós Rózsa, for an Oscar.

The sign shown here was made after 1961. Glenn Strange was an unknown when "The Woman of the Town" first came out, but his name appears on this sign indicating the sign was made while Strange and "Gunsmoke" were popular.