The 1993 movie "Tombstone" has gone a long way toward stoking Holliday's image as an eccentric, thanks to an iconic performance by Val Kilmer as Doc. At least two lines in it are memorable. One of them might even be historically accurate.
When Kilmer, as Holliday, meets up with bad guy Johnny Ringo (played by Michael Biehn) in the film, he declares, "I'm your huckleberry." The phrase, Roberts says, was popular at the time, meaning, "I'm the one you're looking for," or "I'm the man for the job." In a critical showdown late in the film, Holliday again announces his presence with the phrase, although Roberts says there's no historical basis for the scene.
"I'm Your Huckleberry" is the title of Kilmer's recent memoir.
At the O.K. Corral, witnesses say bad guy Frank McLaury got a late advantage on Holliday during the 30-second fight, and declared "I got you now, you son of a bitch," as he leveled a gun at him. Holliday answered — historically, this is close to accurate — "You're a daisy if you do." (Some versions say it was, "You're a daisy if you have [got me].") The meaning, Roberts says, is basically, "Good for you if you do."
McLaury didn't have the drop on him. Holliday escaped unharmed. McLaury was killed.
Still, Doc Holliday's reputation as one of the worst of the Wild West's lives on. Holliday has been played in movies by a dapper, strong Kirk Douglas (1957's "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral"), Stacy Keach (1971's "Doc,"), Kilmer, Dennis Quaid (in 1994's "Wyatt Earp") and many others.
"In most," Roberts says, "Doc Holliday steals the show."