Did Butch Cassidy Survive? Uncovered Manuscript Says He Died of Old Age

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Butch Cassidy (right) with his group of outlaws and bandits, the Wild Bunch. His sidekick, the Sundance Kid, sits to the left.

“You just keep thinking, Butch. That’s what you’re good at.” Turns out, Butch may have had the brains to make it to retirement.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, immortalized in a movie of that same name, were two bandits who were thought to have died in a 1908 Bolivian shootout. But a newly discovered biography of Cassidy tells that that may not be the case.

Brent Ashworth in Utah has unearthed the biography, Bandit Invincible: The Story of Butch Cassidy by William T. Phillips. It tells the story of how Cassidy, originally Robert LeRoy Parker, escaped from Bolivia (the book still says the sun set on Sundance that day), got plastic surgery in France, picked up a long-lost sweetheart in Wyoming, and settled down in Washington state.

(LIST: Top 10 Bandits)

More to it than that, Ashworth believes Phillips is an alias and that Bandit Invincible is an autobiography. The manuscript details moments of Cassidy’s life, such as an interaction where Cassidy refuses to shake a judge’s hand to get a pardon.

“No one who had not been there or done that would know that,” Ashworth told the Associated Press.

Phillips reportedly told his son  and neighbors years after the shootout that he was Cassidy, and many believed him. Cassidy’s brother and sister also recollect his visiting the family ranch close to 20 years after the shootout. There were also citings of the Sundance Kid, previously Harry Longabaugh, thought not nearly as many as sightings of Cassidy.

Still, others are not so sure the book has any basis in reality, and that it may be a worth of fiction. In fact, Bandit Invincible was thought to be a novella before this longer version came out.

“Total horse pucky,” Cassidy historian Dan Buck told the AP. “[The book] doesn’t bear a great deal of relationship to Butch Cassidy’s real life, or Butch Cassidy’s life as we know it.”

There are other reasons to doubt Ashworth’s claim. After Phillips died, his wife, Gertrude, told a Cassidy researcher that the couple knew Cassidy personally and that Phillips was not Cassidy.

Good thing the movie ending (one of NewsFeed’s favorites) leaves barely a sliver of room for interpretation.

(LIST: Top 10 Imposters)

Zachary Cohen is a contributor for TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Zachary_Cohen. You can also continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.


I find this very interesting. My grandpa who is now past told me when he was stationed in the state of washington had dated a girl he was very interested in. He finally was introduced to her family and they lived out in seclusion. The father of this girl took a liken to my grandpa and tolled him after a while that he was harry langbaugh. This would have been in the early 1940's I believe. My grandma would know the closer time frame, because he told her the same story. Grandpa had two guns that were given to him by harry. Those guns have know been sold by my uncle. I am a convinced this story is true because it matches exacly with what my grandpa had claimed for years. Not just to me, but also to my grandma. Harry told grandpa that butch and him came back to the states but knew they had to sepperate. Butch went to new mexico or southwest america and harry went north to washington. That was my grandpa's story almost exacly. I first heard this story around 1988or 1989 i can't remember for sure.