As Andrew C. Isenberg shows in Wyatt Earp: A Vigilante Life, the Hollywood Earp is largely a fiction created by Earp himself, whose life was characterized not by an unflinching devotion to law and order but by inconstancy, defiance of authority, and repeated self-invention. The Earp played on - screen by Henry Fonda and Burt Lancaster is stubbornly duty bound; in actuality, Earp led a life of impulsive law-breaking and shifting identities. When he wasn't wearing a badge, he was variously a thief, a brothel bouncer, a gambler, and a confidence man. He spent his last decades in Los Angeles, where his plastic identity and his penchant for reinvention freely lent themselves to Hollywood mythmaking. Befriending Western silent-film actors and directors, he presented himself to them as a lawman singularly committed to justice. Having tried and failed over the course of his life to invent a better future for himself, in the end Earp invented a better past. Though Earp, who died in 1929, did not live to see it, Hollywood's embrace of him as a paragon of law and order was his last and undoubtedly greatest confidence game.