“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.