Little Sure Shot

The nickname of real life frontier sharp-shooter Annie Oakley, allegedly given to her by Sitting Bull. She was a featured attraction in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.


The fictional life of Annie Oakley was featured on the children’s western adventure ANNIE OAKLEY/SYN/1952-56 with Gail Davis starring as Annie Oakley a sharp-shooting rancher who lived in Diablo County, Arizona in the early 1900s.

Annie was assisted by her younger brother Tagg Oakley (Jimmy Hawkins), and town Deputy Sheriff Lofty Craig (Brad Johnson) who was Annie’s suitor.

Annie’s uncle Luke MacTavish (Kenneth MacDonald) was the seldom-seen sheriff of Diablo. He had taken in Annie and her brother when their parents died.

Annie and Tagg loved animals. Tagg kept a pet frog named Hector and a rabbit named Mr. Hoppity on a game preserve called” Annie’s Ark.”

Other citizens in the town of Diablo included:

  • Roscoe Ates as Curley Dawes, the telegraph operator
  • Trudy as Shelley Fabaras
  • Fess Parker as Tom Conrad, editor of the Diablo Courier
  • Stanley Andrews as Cher Osgood, the editor of the Diablo Bugle (the papers new name after Tom Conrad left the series)
  • William Fawcett as Tom Jennings, the postal clerk
  • Isa Ashdown as Elroy
  • Judy Nugent as Penny, Lofty’s niece
  • Sally Fraser as Gloria Marshall,, Diablo General Store owner
  • Stanley Andrews as George Lacey, the Diablo Hotel owner
  • Miss Curtis as Mary Ellen Kay
  • Nan Leslie as Alias ‘Annie Oakley’, Annie’s outlaw double
  • Helen Lacey as Jacqueline Park
  • Priscilla Bishop as Nita Talbot
  • Nancy Hale as Bess Murdock/Kathleen Scott
  • Nancy Hale as Deborah Scott, a schoolteacher
  • Wendy Drew as Mary Farnsworth, a schoolteacher
  • Virginia Lee as Marge Hardy . a schoolteacher
  • Bob Woodward as the stagecoach driver
  • Larry Reeves as Pete

Annie rode a horse named Target (and later Daisy); Tagg (who likes hardrock candy) rode Pixie; and Deputy Sheriff Lofty rode Forest.


Annie Oakley and Target the Horse

During her stay in Diablo, Annie had to deal with many situation, including:

  • Corrupt ranchers and land grabbers
  • Robbery of a gold ore shipment
  • Aid an ex-convict framed for a gold robbery
  • Help a former Texas gunman lead a peaceful life
  • Assist a tribe of peaceful Hopi Indians
  • Investigate poisoned water holes
  • Rescue a crippled rodeo stuntman from outlaws
  • Aids an wanted outlaw with amnesia wandering in the desert
  • Pursues a man wanted for the murder of a sheriff
  • Forced to arrest The Waco Kid, her childhood sweetheart

Note: Produced by Gene Autry’s Flying “A” Productions, the series was the first to star a woman in a lead role. Gail Davis – a  skilled rider and trick shot – was discovered by Gene Autry who used her in a number of his own western productions before giving Davis her own series.


Born Phoebe Ann Moses on August 13, 1860, the real Annie Oakley traveled around the world and gave exhibitions of her sharp-shooting skills to such dignitaries as Kaiser Wilhelm II (who allowed her to shot a cigarette from his mouth).

The life of Annie Oakley (1859-1926)  inspired the Broadway play Annie Get Your Gun. Upon her death, humorist Will Rogers wrote:

“Annie Oakley, one of the finest and truest of American women was not only the greatest rifle short for a woman that ever lived but I doubt if her character could be matched outside of some saint. She was a remarkable woman, kind hearted, most thoughtful and a wonderful Christian woman. Whenever I think of Annie Oakley, I stop and say to myself: “It’s what you are and not what you are in, that makes you.'”

Obituaries: Gail Davis: 03/15/1997; Brad Johnson: 04/04/1981; Bob Woodward: 02/07/1972.


Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Showbiz Nicknames, Westerns

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