TOMBSTONE — Among the hundreds waiting in line at the OK Corral in Tombstone Saturday to meet actor Michael Biehn, 17-year-old Faith Knoll was the only fan who came with a Xenomorph — a science fiction character — for the actor to autograph.
“My family loved the movie ‘Tombstone,’ and I know that Michael Biehn is here for the movie’s 25th anniversary celebration, but I’m a big fan of ‘Aliens’ and his role in that movie, too,” she said.
Biehn, who played Johnny Ringo in the 1993 movie “Tombstone,” was one of several actors in town Saturday for the Western’s 25th anniversary, an event that extends through Sunday.
“I’m sure that 99.9 percent of the stuff coming through here today for autographs is Tombstone-related, but here we are with our alien,” Faith’s father, Mike Knoll said with a laugh. “I think this is an awesome event and a great opportunity to meet the actors.”
Billy Zane, who starred as Mr. Fabian in “Tombstone,” was at the OK Corral with Biehn and will be there Sunday where the two are signing autographs, posing for photos and hobnobbing with fans.
Other actors scattered throughout different Tombstone establishments include Peter Sherayko (Texas Vermillon), Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Mattie Earp), Joanna Pacula (Doc Holliday’s girlfriend, Kate), Frank Stallone (Ed Bailey) and Sandy Gibbons (Father Freeney).
“I’ve visited Tombstone before, and it’s great to be back for the 25th anniversary,” said Zane, while signing a photograph. “The town shows a lot of love and civic pride, and it’s nice to see all the improvements the town has made through the years.”
While the actors were a big draw, weekend events also included the annual Salute to the Buffalo Soldiers and Freedom Days, which was celebrated as a Second Amendment tribute.
For Saturday’s Buffalo Soldiers parade, the grand marshals were retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West, who is also a former U.S. Congressman from Florida, author and radio host. Medal of Honor recipients Drew Dix and Melvin Morris shared the grand marshal spotlight with West as the parade made its way down Allen Street.
“It’s been a tremendous draw for Tombstone to have all these actors in town, but it’s also an honor to have heroes like Lt. Col. Allen West and the Medal of Honor recipients here,” said Gordon Anderson, who is one of the 25th anniversary organizers for the Tombstone Lions Club.
While waiting to step into a horse-drawn wagon that would be carrying the actors down Allen Street for the Buffalo Soldiers parade, Wheeler-Nicholson got a bit choked up as she gazed at a group of soldiers from Fort Huachuca.
“Seeing these soldiers here is extremely moving,” she said. “Making movies is one thing, but these young soldiers are the real deal. They are the true heroes.”
Despite her role as Wyatt Earp’s wife Mattie in the movie, Saturday marked Wheeler-Nicholson’s first Tombstone visit, an experience she summed up as incredible.
Pacula had similar comments about the town.
“I’m loving it here,” she said. “This is my third time in Tombstone, and it’s phenomenal. The weather is perfect, the food is great, and the people here are fabulous. Where else do you see all these Buffalo Soldiers? This is so much fun.”
Sedona resident Rick Newlee said he and his wife visit Tombstone several times a year.
“We’re big fans of the movie, and have watched it between 150 and 200 times,” he said. “It’s safe to say it’s one of our favorites, so this is a fun experience for us.”
For Michael Johnson of Rimrock, it’s Tombstone’s history that draws him to town.
“Tombstone’s history put Arizona on the map,” he said. “It’s fun to come down here and experience the Old West like this and relive the town’s history.”