What ‘Interesting Things’ Did Reba McEntire Learn About Annie Oakley While Playing Her?

When superstar Reba McEntire first played famous markswoman, Annie Oakley, she was already an admirer of what she knew about the historic icon. But the country queen ended up learning a few more interesting things about Oakley that reinforced her adoration. What new-to-her facts made McEntire declare, “No wonder I was such a big fan of hers”?

Reba McEntire poses with members of the cast of the musical "Annie Get Your Gun" January 9, 2001 at a press conference in New York City.
Reba McEntire with members of the cast of the musical ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ | Spencer Platt/Newsmakers

Who was Annie Oakley?

To start with a brief history lesson, Oakley was a sharpshooter who defied societal norms for her time. She was born Phoebe Ann Moses in Ohio in 1860 and soon learned how to hunt to help provide. As a teen, she began to make a name for herself with her impeccable aim. She eventually paid the mortgage on her mother’s house with the money she earned from her talent.

In the years after marrying marksman, Frank Butler, in 1876, she adopted her full stage name, Annie Oakley. According to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the couple joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show in 1885. It wasn’t long before Oakley became a centerpiece.

This opportunity allowed her to travel the world, showing off her skills as a rare “Champion Markswoman,” and she even become part of the 1887 Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in England.

Oakley seemingly dedicated her life to her marriage, her work, and her dogs. Bittersweetly, she and Butler both died in 1926, only weeks apart following 50 years of marriage. Her life eventaully inspired a show, Annie Oakley, in the ’50s.

So, all that considered, she was someone that McEntire admired from an early age. And the “Fancy” singer was ecstatic for the chance to play her twice.

Reba McEntire as Annie Oakley in ‘Buffalo Girls’

In her 1994 autobiography, Reba: My Story, McEntire wrote about getting the part of Oakley the first time. It was in the 1995 television miniseries, Buffalo Girls.

Though she was excited to play one of her role models, she was incorrectly under the impression she would receive something comparable to the outfit from the show. Her clothes for the part came as a bit of a surprise to the style icon.

“They were very nice but not as flashy as I thought they would be!” she wrote. “And you know I like flash!”

That’s when she found out Oakley “made all of her own clothes and was a very practical person.”

But she also advocated for animal rights and better pay for Wild West show workers. “No wonder I was such a big fan of hers,” McEntire said after sharing what she learned.

Reba McEntire and Annie Oakley share a love for diamond earrings

McEntire learned some surprising things she didn’t know about Oakley while playing her in the ’90s, and there was one more that seemed to give her a small delight. She recalled in her autobiography that she was wearing diamond stud earrings in her fittings under the impression she would need to remove them for filming.

But she was told she had something else in common with Oakley besides loving an audience — wearing diamond stud earrings.

So, McEntire was able to keep a little of her signature “flash” in the costume, after all. And she had another chance to portray Oakley in 2001, this time with all the flash of Broadway for a revival of Annie Get Your Gun.

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