Listening Material: Doc Holliday (A Legend in Tombstone)

image tombstoneFree Download: English Listening Material, audio and script.  Title: Doc Holliday: One of the Most Famous and Dangerous Gunfighters of the Old West. Kind/Type: Life History, Biography. Audio: Mp3 (7.5Mb). Transcript: pdf, doc.  Source: Voice of America (VOA). Intended to be used for English learners in Indonesia (SMP/MTs/SMA/MA/SMK students); used for educational purposes only.

Har’s reviews: One of my favorite movies is “Tombstone” (released in 1993, directed by Kurt Russell, starring: Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday). I do love watching it repeatedly. I think Tombstone is certainly one of the top greatest westerns ever made. All the action and scenes in Tombstone are terrific, exciting and very well-staged. The set design, costumes, sets, and everything else truly take us back to the old days of the Wild West. And…the most interesting one is the character of “Doc Holliday” played by my favorite actor: Val Kilmer.

Several years ago, after watching Tombstone, I was curious on the character of Doc Holliday. The words he spoke; the way he shot… made me admire him very much. Having known that Tombstone was based on the true story, I then tried to look for articles on Doc Holliday. And, I was very lucky I got the audio-mp3 telling about the life story of Doc Holliday. I thought it might be a very interesting audio to be used in my listening class. Additional note: for my friends; English teachers in Indonesia, you can use this lesson material with a brief description on the study of cross-cultural understanding.


Doc Holliday:
One of the Most Famous and Dangerous Gunfighters of the Old West

This is Phoebe Zimmermann. And this is Doug Johnson with ‘EXPLORATIONS’ in VOA Special English.  Many stories have been told about the old American West.  Some are true. Many more are just interesting stories.  Today we will try to tell the true story of one of the most famous and dangerous American gun fighters.  His name was John Henry Holliday.  He was better known as “Doc”.


The little city of Glenwood Springs is deep in the Rocky Mountains in the western state of Colorado.  The mountains here rise sharply out of the ground and surround Glenwood Springs.

A small burial area in Glenwood Springs is called the Pioneer Cemetery.  You have to walk up a steep hill on an old dirt road to reach it. The walk takes about twenty minutes.  Visitors can stop at several places along this walk to look at the city far blow.

In the cemetery, large stones mark most of the burial places.  Some of the stones look new.  Many are more than one hundred years old.

A dirt path leads to the back of the cemetery and one, lone, burial place.  This one is the reason most people come to the Pioneer Cemetery.  The stone over the burial place is colored red, and larger than most of the others.  A small black metal fence surrounds the grave.

The name on the stone says “Doc Holliday… He died in bed.”  This man’s real name was John Henry Holliday.  He was called “Doc” because he was a doctor of dental surgery, a dentist. But he was best known as a gunfighter and gambler, a person who plays games of chance for money.  Many people who knew him considered him the most dangerous man in the Old West.

It is extremely difficult to separate truth from the false stories that were spread about some of the more famous people in the Old West.  Many of these famous stories are very interesting and exciting.  But they are not true.  Many of these made-up stories tell about the man who was Doc Holliday.

History experts say he was a very dangerous man because he was already dying when he came to the West.  He knew he had the lung disease tuberculosis that causes a slow death.  Many experts said he was not afraid of a gunfight. He thought a quick death from a bullet might be better than waiting to die a very slow, painful death from the disease.

Another interesting fact about Doc Holliday is that many history experts now believe he may have spread several of the stories that were told about him.  He may have done this because it caused people to fear him.  If they feared him, they would not cause him trouble.  It was not difficult to find trouble in many towns in the American West. And disputes about who had won a game of chance were always a possibility for a professional gambler like Doc Holliday.


John Henry Holliday was born in the southern state of Georgia in eighteen fifty-one.  He was born into a family that included several medical doctors and dentists.  Like most young men of the American South at that time, John Henry Holliday learned to ride a horse well.  He learned to shoot several kinds of weapons.

He also was well educated.  He learned math and science.  He learned to read, write and speak Greek, Latin and French.

A young black woman who worked for his family taught him to play card games. John Holliday became a very good card player.  He could easily remember which cards had been played in a game. This was very difficult to do.  It helped him much later in life when he became a professional gambler.

In eighteen seventy, John became a student at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery in Philadelphia. He graduated in eighteen seventy-two.

John Holliday was a tall man.  He was thin and always dressed well. He was a quiet, friendly man who always smiled.  People liked him.  Doctor Holliday began working as a dentist in the southern city of Atlanta, Georgia.  He soon began to show the signs of tuberculosis, the same disease that had killed his mother. His doctor said he would live longer if he went to a warm, very dry place — perhaps the American West.

In eighteen seventy-three, John Holliday said goodbye to his family and left Georgia on a train.  He began his new life in the western city of Dallas, Texas…

Download completely, full script (pdf), »click here…
Download completely, full script (doc), »click here…
Download audio mp3 (7.5mb), »click here…

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3 responses to “Listening Material: Doc Holliday (A Legend in Tombstone)

  1. i would really love to play card games, it is also a very addictive game .,-

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