Manuscript Casts Doubt On Butch Cassidy's Ending

The classic movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ends with Butch dying in a Bolivian shootout. But Brent Ashworth, a rare books dealer in Utah, recently found a manuscript, which he says might have been written by Butch Cassidy — who did not die in Bolivia, but went on to live a quiet life in Washington state.

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DAVID GREENE, host:

It turns out another larger-than-life character, Butch Cassidy, may not have had the fiery death of legend. In the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," Paul Newman and Robert Redford played outlaws in the old American West. They robbed banks and held up trains.

(Soundbite of movie, "Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid")

Mr. PAUL NEWMAN (Actor): (as Butch Cassidy) Stop it.

Unidentified Man (Actor): (as character) There ain't what I'd call a fortune in there, Butch.

Mr. NEWMAN: (As Butch Cassidy) Well, just so we come out ahead. That's the main thing.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

In the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid eventually run off to Bolivia and wind up running head on into a hail of bullets.

GREENE: But a newly discovered manuscript has some wondering if that's how it ended for the real Butch Cassidy. A rare book collector in Utah says the manuscript suggests Butch survived and led a secret life under the name William T. Phillips.

Mr. BRENT ASHWORTH (Rare Books Dealer): Turned out that William T. Phillips had tried to sell this story, "The Bandit Invincible," which was the story of Butch Cassidy.

MONTAGNE: Brent Ashworth found Phillips' manuscript. He says it contains details no one but Butch could've known. And he's convinced that Phillips really was Butch.

Mr. ASHWORTH: That's yet, I guess, to be proven. But if Phillips is not Butch, he's certainly very, very close to him.

GREENE: Some historians are unconvinced. Cassidy expert Dan Buck called the theory total horse-pucky.

(Soundbite of music)

GREENE: This is NPR News.

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