Push the button, Max! : On publishing new photographic evidence of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

10 Nov

Read in Spanish 

Big American Wild West news about
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid!

For the past year I have been involved in a very secretive mission with my brother, Brian Mida Bleecker.  We have been investigating, researching and authenticating a photograph from the late 1800s of what we suspected, then proved, was an unknown photo of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That secret mission has now come to fruition in a new Kindle eBook called Butch & Sundance: The New Evidence [1].

This past weekend, the book, with Brian’s investigations and re-imaginings and my 14 page academic paper was finally completed, integrated, and polished. So many months of hard work came down to a moment, in which, with a fantastical expression in which both trepidation and excitement played equal parts, my brother pushed the button to upload the book to Kindle.


Brian ‘pushes the button’ on “Butch & Sundance: The New Evidence” [2]

The excitement is understandable of course, but why did he and I feel a sense of trepidation? Because like Professor Fate and his sidekick Max of The Great Race, who often pushed a diabolical button on their Hannibal Twin-8 race car to explosive effect, who knows what could happen next?

Up until now, there has been only one known photograph of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid together (the Fort Worth Five photo below) and one additional known photo of each man separately.


Known photograph of the Wild Bunch. The Sundance Kid (Harry Alonzo Longabaugh) is seated at far left; Butch Cassidy (Robert Leroy Parker) is seated at far right. [3]

But guess what?  There’s a new, real, photo to add to that short list, and Brian discovered it, and I authenticated it!  Together, Brian and I have told the story of an amazing ‘new-old’ photograph.  It is old, because it is a cabinet card from the late 1800s. It is new, because after a year of investigation, we are presenting it to the world and rewriting an important corner of American Old West history.

As Brian says in the description that in these electronic days passes for a book’s dustcover jacket:

“…after almost eighty years, a new look at these famed desperados is presented by art collector and historian Brian Mida Bleecker. In “Butch and Sundance ~ The New Evidence” he brings to the table a totally unknown photo of both outlaws, posing together in a canvas tent near the mines of Southwest Colorado. His research also uncovers the forgotten saga of a pioneering photographic family, whose youngest son unknowingly captured a fleeting moment in Western History then went uncredited for well over a century. …”

It was uncanny that the project needed an experienced Wild West art historian and a digital image scientist, and there we were, just the two right people for the job. The bottom line is that this is big news for anyone who has ever been interested in the American Old West generally, and Butch & Sundance in particular. 

Of course we would like a lot of people to buy the book (in which you get a well-told and carefully researched tale, a re-envisioned story of the early days of Butch & Sundance, and a full academic paper), but if you visit Kindle you can still see the photo right now for free in the preview. If you do buy the book, it would be great if you could write a review and rate it because it may take an effort to cut through the Internet noise.

This has been a wonderful, fun, exciting journey so far.  At the moment we feel like we know something that very few other people do. However this exciting project unfolds, I’m glad we pushed the publication button!

Update January 2018 – if you’d like to learn more about how the photograph fared in 2017, I recount the tale here.

[1] Bleecker, Brian Mida. (2016) Butch & Sundance: The New Evidence. Pub Amazon Kindle eBook.
Bitly address is
[2] Photo by Sabrina Caldwell – photo taken with IPad Pro of computer screen during Skype call. Cropped to reduce screen reflections.
[3] Other members of theWild Bunch gang are News Carver (standing left at back), Kid Curry (standing back at right) and The Tall Texan (seated middle front).  Photograph in Public Domain per Wikimedia Commons; downloaded 9/11/2016 from

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