Intermarriage Throughout the Ages

I’m not sure if this is an interfaith marriage that falls into the celebrity category, but Moment magazine this week tells the tale of Wyatt Earp, the notorious sharpshooter, and his Jewish wife, Josephine “Josie” Sarah Marcus.

She was a showgirl from a prosperous, German-Jewish family, and spent most of her young adult years as a performer until she moved to Tombstone. She got engaged to sheriff Johnny Behan, then broke it off to be with Earp. This romantic rivalry was one of the factors that led to the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

After the dust settled, Josie and Earp left Tombstone and lived out their days amongst the burgeoning Hollywood scene, until Earp died at the age of 80.

The article doesn’t dwell on their religious relationship – it’s not said whether they lived a Jewish lifestyle or not. But at the end of the piece is an indication that Sadie, throughout her life, still recognized and respected her Jewish roots.

Josie kept her husbands cremated ashes for months before travelling 400 miles along to the Hills of Eternity Memorial Park, a Jewish cemetery in Colma, a San Francisco suburb, to inter them near the graves of her parents and brother. She spent her remaining years in Los Angeles vigilantly protecting Wyatt’s legacy. When she died in 1944 at the age of 83, her ashes were buried alongside his.

Whether this counts as a “successful” interfaith marriage is clearly up for debate. But it’s certainly interesting to note that of all the ways Josie could have had her and her legendary husband remembered, she chose a place that will forever connect the two of them to the Jewish community. That, I think, speaks volumes.

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