Dakota Datebook

Operatic Cowboy

Saturday, December 10, 2005

William Medora Pruitt was known as “Bill Proot” in 1913, when he was making his way east to New York. A scout for Henry W. Savage, a New York stage and film producer, had “discovered” Pruitt while the cowboy was entertaining at Glacier Park. Pruitt sang at a party hosted by Louis W. Hill, president of the Great Northern Railroad.

A story out of Chicago read: “[Pruitt] was born in North Dakota, wears hair chaps, [a wide hat, and silver jingles], is a husky, full-blooded citizen who can jolt an outlaw horse into a whimper, and has a full baritone voice that in Montana sounds like grand opera. Therefore, because he can pick up some money and…hopes Henry W. Savage will put him on the stage, he is riding his pet horse to New York. On the way he is stopping at various palm rooms, way stations and inland cabarets and is averaging $75 a week, blankets, chuck and hay included.”

Source: Fargo Forum. 5 Dec 1913.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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