American mountain man and Indian fighter (???-1899). A seriously big guy, six feet tall, 250 pounds, with flaming red hair and beard, Johnson married Swan, a girl from the Flathead Indian tribe in 1847. After making sure his cabin on Colorado's Little Snake River had plenty of food, firewood, and other supplies, Johnson left for the winter to go trapping. When he got back after the spring thaw, he discovered that Swan and her unborn baby had been slain by, he surmised from a feather left at the scene, members of the Crow Indian tribe. And Johnson swore that he'd get revenge...

Over the following years, Johnson stalked and killed some 300 Crow braves. When he killed one of them, he would cut their chest open, tear out the liver, and eat it raw. (Unsurprisingly and a bit unimaginatively, he was nicknamed Liver-Eating Johnson) He scared the Crow to death--they thought he might be some sort of wild animal or monster instead of a mere man. They tried to kill him for years, but they never succeeded--in fact, he always seemed to know they were coming and was able to prepare to fight them off (and kill them and eat their livers, of course).

At one point, Johnson was captured by a group of Blackfoot Indians, who planned to sell him to the Crow. They tied him up with leather thongs and stuck him in a teepee with a guard outside. Johnson managed to chew through the straps, then disarmed one of his captors and amputated one of his legs. He escaped into the winter snows and dined on the Blackfoot's leg until he reached the cabin of a fellow trapper.

Eventually, Johnson made peace with the Crow. He died of old age in a veterans' hospital in Los Angeles in 1899.

A film based on Johnson's life, called...wait for it..."Jeremiah Johnson", was released in 1972. It was directed by Sydney Pollack and starred Robert Redford as Johnson, Will Geer as Bear Claw Chris Lapp, and Delle Bolton as Swan. Most of the plot conforms fairly closely with the facts, though the stuff about the liver eating was left out. Oh, for what could have been: Robert Redford gutting Indians, gobbling down livers, and chewing on human leg meat...

Research from "The Werewolf Book" (Apparently, the cannibalism is enough to make him a werewolf. Whatever.) by Brad Steiger, published by Visible Ink Press, 1999, p. 160 and the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com)

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