Cosmopolitan magazine recalls the legendary Belle Starr (1848-1889), who became an All-American celebrity after her mysterious death.
Starr, then her name was Mae Shirley, was born on February 5, 1848 on the farm of her father, a wealthy farmer, in Missouri. The girl received a classical education, after graduating from a private women's educational institution, played the piano well. With the outbreak of the Civil War, his father moved the family to Texas, and there, according to legend, Starr first became closely acquainted with the bandits, including the famous Jesse James.
After the war, 18-year-old Mae Shirley married Jim Reed, whom she fell in love with as a teenager, and two years later gave birth to a daughter. The husband finally dragged the future queen of the bandits into crime: Jim Reed did not succeed in trying to lead an honest life as a farmer, he now and then fell into bad company, trading either with the Indians engaged in the illegal trade in whiskey and horse-stealing, or with old acquaintances of his wife like Jesse James's gang.
It is believed that the fame that Starr later earned was due not only to her organizational talent, but also to her innate sense of style. She was a ready-made heroine of novels and films - stately, brave, she shot accurately and rode a horse in a black velvet suit, a plumed hat, with pistols and bandoliers on her hip.
In 1874, Reed was assassinated, and his widow a few years later married a Cherokee named Sam Starr, settled with him in the Indian territories and developed in full force. Belle proved to be an excellent organizer: she skillfully planned outings of robbers, horse thieves and bootleggers and sheltered them from the law. Her venture was so lucrative that Starr always had bribes to help free her “colleagues” from the hands of the law. In 1883, Belle and Sam were sentenced to a correctional house in Detroit. Belle proved to be an exemplary prisoner and earned the respect of the prison guard during her time in prison.
Three years later, she was again a widow. Belle's lovers were called several bandits at once. Officially, she, not wanting to leave the Indian territories, married a relative of her late husband Sam Starr, who was 15 years younger than her.
On February 3, 1889, two days before her 41st birthday, she was killed. Belle was riding a horse when she was ambushed. Death resulted from gunshot wounds to the back, neck, shoulder and face. Legend has it that she was shot with her own double-barreled shotgun. No witnesses were found, and no one was convicted of murder. Among the suspects was her new husband, daughter, but the most likely killer is her son, whom she allegedly beat shortly before for mistreating a horse.
Despite the fact that few people outside of Texas heard about Belle, after her death she instantly became a star - thanks to the appearance of the novel Bella Starr, The Bandit Queen, or the Female Jesse James ), written by Richard K. Fox in hot pursuit in 1889.
Starr is still a popular heroine in American culture. For example, a character named Belle Star is featured in the popular TV series Doctor Quinn, the Doctor Woman, and the famous film director Lina Wertmüllera shot her 1968 biopic The Belle Starr Story, in which the beautiful Elsa Martinelli played the queen of the bandits.