TBT: Tombstone (1993)


Tombstone (1993) has been one of those films I managed to not see and always elicits the “OMG HOW CAN YOU NOT HAVE SEEN THAT???” reaction from my friends. So I finally got around to watching it the other day. Before I get into the costuming good stuff, I have to say that I am not a fan of Westerns, so that probably explains why I had dragged my feet in watching the film even when, like, 90% of my friend group loves it and quotes it constantly.

“Meh,” I thought to myself. “Probably just more dusty cowboy shit and vaguely ye olde timey women’s costumes that look like they were bought from the Leg Avenue rack at the local Wal-Mart.”

Oh, how wrong I was! Especially about the costuming. Story-telling and casting aside (both of which are great), the costumes by designer Joseph Porro, are fabulous. Turns out, 1993 was a year that everybody was making Westerns, so all the costume shops were all rented out, as Porro relates on his Pinterest board dedicated to the costumes he designed for Tombstone:

Shot in Tuscon Arizona and surroundings in 1993. One of the toughest jobs I ever worked on. Wyatt Earp and Geronimo were shooting at the same time and so there was nothing left to rent. I had no choice but to make everything for the leads and the Cowboys. I rented Victorian pieces for my background extras in London and literally designed a full line of western wear for the show. Because of this the show had a unique look. I still get lots of fan mail even to this day.

Consider this post my fan mail to him, especially for Josie’s white dress. My jaw dropped when I saw this scene.

Dana Delaney as actress Josephine Marcus, Wyatt Earp’s paramour.

Interior Scene with a Lady in a White Dress, by Paul Gustav Fischer.

The “sisters” (the wives of the Earp brothers) also had some lovely costumes, especially the mourning gowns. I love the one worn by Dana Wheeler-Nicholson with its black lace on lavender border.

In general, the sisters’ gowns are light colored to visually set them apart from the other two main female characters, Josie the actress, and Big Nose Kate, a Hungarian prostitute who is Doc Holliday’s girlfriend.

Lisa Collins as Louisa, wife of Morgan Earp.

Joanna Pacula, as Kate (lacking the big nose, but hey, it’s Hollywood). This is her day wear look, which might just be a black jacket over the evening bodice she’s usually seen wearing. I really liked how, as probably the poorest of the female characters in the film, there seems to be some mix ‘n match with her wardrobe with two evening bodices and a day bodice, worn with, as far as I can tell, the same skirts. She’s also briefly shown in a red gown in the same scene with Josie’s white gown.

“Why Kate, you’re not wearing a bustle! How lewd…”

And speaking of Doc Holiday, there’s an archived auction site with the costume worn by Val Kilmer…

I highly suggest checking out Joseph Porro’s Pinterest board for loads more images from Tombstone, as well as all the other films he’s worked on, too.


If you could be anyone from Tombstone, why would you choose Doc Holiday? 


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

13 Responses

    • Working Mom Having It All

      We just adopted a kitten which we named Huckleberry (Huck for short), and EVERYONE is asking “like I’ll be yer Huckleberry, in Tombstone?” as if we are the only people in the world who can’t quote this movie from memory. Or, frankly, as if we couldn’t have named the cat after the MANY more prominent Huckleberrys out there which aren’t a random quote from a 25 year old western.

      I guess I should finally see this movie, is what I’m saying.

  1. Shirley

    Glad you enjoyed it! It’s been one of my favorite movies since childhood.

    As lovely as the women’s costumes are, my favorite fashion item was Curly Bill’s kickass poker-themed boots. I want a pair but can never find them in my size.

  2. mmcquown

    On the history side, I thought Wyatt Earp was a touch better, but costume-wise, you’re right. Just looked up images of Kate Elder; her nose wasn’t that big. She did get an early mention in the earlier movie, “The Sons of Katie Elder,” a John Wayne epic.

  3. anniebuck

    My favorite Doc line, “Why Johnny Ringo, you look like somebody just walked over your grave.”.

    And, “Oh, Johnny, I’m sorry. I forgot you were there. You may go now.”

  4. Susan Pola Staples

    I’ve requested it from my library for Dana Delaney’s Josie Marcus dress alone as I also don’t usually watch Westerns.

  5. Charity

    I share your “meh” attitude toward westerns, but still watch them once in awhile. (My favorite is “Maverick.” I laugh so hard every single time I watch that, and then I lust super hard over that gorgeous blue gambling dress.)

    I haven’t seen this in a long, long time. Might have to get it from the library.

  6. Stephani Miller

    I’m not a fan of the typical Western, but this one is just so damn good. The plot, writing, acting, casting, and costuming is top notch.
    Others I love: Broken Trail and Quigley Down Under (Tom Sellick with bonus Alan Rickman as the baddie!)

  7. Rowen G.

    Haven’t seen this one for about 20 years, but if I recall correctly, there was also Billy Zane looking exceedingly decorative.

    • Shirley

      YES! In a movie full of great actors in great roles, he stands out despite very few scenes. Love when the Cowboys see him and declare, “Prettiest man I ever seen!”

  8. Philip Tuminello

    This is one of a handful of westerns that I can watch over and over again.
    Others are Once Upon a Time in The West, Shawshank Redemption, and of course The Godfather movies.

    • Roxana

      Josie is an actress is she? Sounds like the writers decided to go with her official story. Well why not.