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Listed below are the films, TV shows, plays, biographies and books that are about Soapy Smith or include an actor portraying or based on him. 

It is our hope that in the near future a well done movie will be made about Soapy's life. An author writing to Randolph J. Smith (Soapy's grandson) once said,

"A movie on Soapy Smith, would be a mixture of, The Sting, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

We could not agree more. There is so much to the story...drama, love, humor, gunfights...This would be a winner of a movie. It's just waiting to be made.



        Title                                                              Actor Portraying Soapy  ________________________________________

The Girl Alaska    1919 (World Pictures)    Actor: unknown

Film poster, 1919

American black and white silent film. Believed to be the first motion picture that portrayed a mention of Soapy on film. The film caused Soapy's son, a newspaper man and political power in St. Louis, Missouri, personal anguish and supposed loss of respect when the film was viewed in his home town theater. In 1919 the son, Jefferson R. Smith, III hired the legal firm of McCarthy, Morris and Sachritz to take up a legal battle of written letters meant to eliminate objectionable parts from the film.  Jefferson felt the film had injured his personal and political standing in the community and wished to sue for malicious libel. At first the film company, George Kleine Motion Pictures was willing to cut offensive scenes out but later reneged on their offer.  There is no  known out come. One copy of the film exists at the Library of Congress. 1918.
Paul Quinzi saw the film during a visit to the Library of Congress and wrote;
"The film is the story of a girl called Molly McCrea, 'daughter of one of the lost gold seekers of Alaska.' After having been abandoned by her father at a young age, Molly decides to travel to Alaska herself after reading in the newspaper of 'great opportunities for young men in the north.' Disguised by a pair of overalls and a cap, Molly passes herself off as a boy, stows away on a ship and adopts the slightly more masculine name 'Alaska.' On the ship, Alaska meets Phil Hadley, who is also seeking his fortune, and the two 'boys' become best buds.  

The two arrive in Skagway and meet an 'old sourdough' who shows them around the town. They soon hook up with a native who offers to lead them to a good stake. On the way, a huge ice cliff falls on their canoe, killing their guide, leaving Phil and Alaska to their own devices. (No CGI of course; the prelude to the film alludes to the actors 'missing death by a narrow margin' in this scene). They eventually find the stake, but there's no gold to be found. They wander around some more and Phil becomes ill. Alaska saves him by discovering, luckily within a few hundred yards, an old prospector's cabin. Lo and behold, it's the old sourdough from Skagway! He takes them in and offers to let them stay and help work his claim. 

Alaska seems to be slowly falling for Phil, who constantly pines for Lorraine, his sweetie back home, a socialite who writes him occasionally. Of course, thinking Alaska is a dude, Phil is totally oblivious to her feelings. One day Alaska, Phil and the sourdough go into Fairbanks, the nearest town, for supplies. Alaska and Phil go into a saloon, where someone tries to rob Phil at the faro table. A great bar fight ensues, in which Phil is roundly beaten and falls out into the street. Alaska rushes to his side, whispers 'I love you' and kisses the unconscious Phil. Then the sourdough collects them and they make a swift exit from Fairbanks. They continue to work the stake, Phil missing Lorraine, Alaska lamenting her unrequited love for Phil. The old sourdough falls ill, and on his death bed asks Alaska to take his share of the claim back to the States and give it to his little girl, Molly! Alaska removes her cap, revealing her curls, and no sooner are father and daughter reunited than they are separated by death. 

Phil decides it's time to head back home to Lorraine, and leaves his buddy Alaska to work the claim. He is thrown from his sled and is left alone in the wintry wilderness. The next morning, Alaska wakes to the jingling bells of the returning pilotless dogsled, and goes out to save Phil, which she does, although admittedly still bitter about his having left her for Lorraine. 

Spring comes, and one day Phil spies Alaska secretly frolicking by the lake, naked as the day she was born, highlighting the fact that she's a she (no CGI here, either, but shot from far away). Later that day, some prospectors happen by the cabin and leave off some newspapers from the States. Phil picks up one only to read, 'Prominent socialite Lorraine Dower weds New York millionaire.' Next morning, Phil takes Alaska to Fairbanks, ostensibly to file a new claim. Instead, he takes her directly to the chapel (pastored by the Rev. U.R. Blest), whereupon he announces that they want to be married, to which Alaska coyly consents. THE END.


Of course, the reason I wanted to see this film in the first place was to see the first on-screen portrayal of Soapy Smith. My understanding of the connection to Soapy was that his son was so embarrassed and offended by the film that he threatened to sue the producer for libel if he did not remove the objectionable scenes. I have concluded that either he succeeded, or that the lawsuit itself may have been Soapy's last con - from beyond the grave.

First, there is no Soapy character, or even a character loosely based on Soapy (a la Candy Johnson in Honky Tonk, Sheriff Gannon in The Far Country) in the film. The only mention of Soapy is an approximately 15-second scene when Phil and Alaska arrive in Skagway. The entire part plays exactly like this:

Slide: The old sourdough takes Alaska and Phil to the grave of the notorious gunman, Soapy Smith.

Screen: [Shows Soapy's tombstone, circa 1919, tattooed with graffiti] Jefferson R. Smith, died July 8, 1898, aged 38 years.

Slide: 'This fellow tried to shoot up Skagway. They buried him with his boots on.' 

That's it. That's the libelous content that was the basis of the lawsuit alleging mental anguish. It seems to me that this is one of the most innocuous things ever recorded about Soapy. Could it be that the newspaperman's indignation and threat of a libel suit was a ruse to extort money out of the filmmaker? That Soapy Smith had one con left, and the talents of the father were revisited in the son? Or is there some particular ignominy about being buried with his boots on that is lost on someone of my generation? I guess 'tr[ying] to shoot up Skagway' makes him sound like a kind of terrorist, but it's certainly not the extensive character assassination I was expecting.

Of course, it's possible that some original version had a somehow more sinister depiction of Soapy and after being threatened with a lawsuit, the director removed it, leaving only the cut I saw. But the film is set in 1919, so it's unlikely that there would have ever been a Soapy character included in it. 

On the other hand, far be it from me to presume to know what genuinely offends someones sensibilities. I don't have any famous (or infamous, for that matter) relatives that I know of, so I don't pretend to know how it feels to have one's name attached to such a reference. And also on the other hand, the part about Soapy is a complete throwaway; it does absolutely nothing to advance the story and is almost conspicuously out of place. The producer's offer to cut the scene involving Soapy was hardly even a concession; it seems like he went out of his way in even mentioning him, in an unflattering, but still relatively harmless reference. Maybe the fact that the reference was so capricious was what set Jeff Jr. off?"

Honky Tonk
   1941 (MGM)                            Actor: Clark Gable

Clark Gable as Candy Johnson (Soapy)

Opening scene from

Many thanks to Whit Haydn and DaveV for making this possible.

An American black & white film starring Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Frank Morgan, Claire Trevor and Chill Wills. MGM purchased the rights to the book, The Reign of Soapy Smith, by William Ross Collier and Edwin Victor Westgate and transcribed into a cinema play by Ann Lee Whitmore and Tom Sellers, with Clark Gable playing the lead (L.A. Times, 04/29/1940. p. 8). The film was to be about Soapy, but according to Jeff, his grandfather, Soapy's son, (Jefferson Randolph Smith, III) threatened to open a lawsuit against MGM if they used his father's name and story. 

Soapy's son still had rights over useage of his father's name. Rather than scrap the movie, which had already begun filming, MGM just changed the names around. Soapy Smith became Candy Johnson, a con man, played by Clark Gable. Candy Johnson, tired of running from town to town, sets his mind to have a town of his own. A very fun film with great comical dialogue and a few shootouts thrown in for flavor.

At the start of the film there is a beautiful rendition on three-card Monte. In the film Gable, as Mr. Johnson, for the sake of a woman, decides to use his huckstering skill to build a small-town church, but soon he's up to his old tricks, again, managing a dance hall and gambling emporium. There is a happy ending.

The Great Jesse James Raid    1953 (Docudrama)  Actor: Earl Hodgins

"A well-crafted western" - Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

The Far Country      1955                              Actor: John McIntire

Actors John McIntire and James Stewart

Actor James Stewart
takes a herd of cattle to Dawson City, Canada, and encounters a likable badman in Skagway, Alaska.  The character is loosely, but clearly and unmistakably, based on Soapy.  Almost everything factual is off, including the year, 1896.  The geography is so bad, it's laughable.  Still, the Soapy character and the frontier mining atmosphere are in the mold of truth.

The Klondike Fever    1980                               Actor: Rod Stieger

Canadian film having the same title as the book by Pierre Bertone, but that's where the similarity ends.   Rod Stieger, as Soapy, was far too old, beardless, and dressed like a priest, complete with collar.


The Alaskans
   1959-1960 (TV)                     Actor: John Dehner

American TV fictional show based around the Klondike gold rush.  Several episodes included Soapy in some form of dishonest mayhem.  One of the episodes, "Remember the Maine" tells the story of Soapy and his volunteer army.

Alias Smith and Jones  
  1971-1972 (TV)       Actor: Sam Jaffe

        courtesy TVLand
An older, gray haired Soapy discusses business with "Smith & Jones"

American TV show based on two outlaws trying to go straight.  Sam Jaffe appears as Soapy in three episodes;

    • The Great Shell Game, aired, February 18, 1971.
    • A Fistful of Diamonds, aired, March 4, 1971.
    • Bad Night in Big Butte, aired, March 2, 1972.

Deadwood    2004-2005 (HBO)                                         Actor: Gil Gayle

Soapy Smith in Deadwood

Season one and two of this HBO program shows a prize soap pakage sell swindle character known in the cast as "the Huckster." Actor Ricky Jay was introduced to Jeff Smith and is knowledgable of the Soapy Smith story. "The Huckster" is obviously based on Soapy.


Treasure    1968 (TV)                                                  Actor: Unknown

Bill Burrud's Treasure

The Saga of Soapy Smith aired on Bill Burrud's Treasure.  Well done portrayal of his Skagway days leading up to his death. The question arises as to the where abouts of Soapy's wealth after his death. It is hard to fathom that Soapy died broke when at the height of power.


Theater Plays

The Ballad of Soapy Smith  
  1983                   Actor: Denis Arndt

A wonderful play writen by Michael Weller and premiered in Seattle, Washington in 1983.  It was performed in New York and years later in a college university in California, where Jeff Smith had the pleasure of seeing the play and meeting Mr. Weller.

The Days of '98 Show (with Soapy Smith)  
                     Actor: James Richards

Please see the special section on this wonderful play at the bottom of this page or click HERE

Games & Entertainments

"Save Soapy" (A level in the game involving the rescue of Soapy)

Gun    2005 (Neversoft) Video game (XBox, PSP, etc.)

Gun is a western-themed video developed by Neversoft and published by Activision for the Xbox 360, Xbox, GameCube, PC, PSP and PSP2. It was released in North America on November 8, 2005 and in mid-to late November in Europe. Soapy Jennings is one of the characters in the game named after Soapy Smith. It is unknown why they changed his name but one rumor states it was in honor of one of the creators friends.

Soapy, played by Dave Wittenberg is a safe-cracking card cheat and the main characters (Colton) closest ally. Soapy is a little too smart and cocky for his own good. Though he's a smooth talker, he tends to get himself into trouble, where as Cole is constantly bailing him out.

The Yukon Trail  
  1997 (The Learning Co.)  Computer

A Windows/Mac computer game in which the player (you) play a Klondike Gold Rush stampeder trying to get to Dawson and the gold fields.  In Skagway the player runs into Soapy Smith, his saloon, a crooked shell game and a card cheat.

In The Yukon Trail game players can talk to historical characters, play a crooked shell game, enter "Soapy's Saloon" and talk to Soapy himself. 

Conker Live & Reloaded
   2005   (Microsoft Game Studios)

Squirrel soldier: "Soapy"

Conker: Live and Reloaded is an Xbox game, that Jeff played with his son Jefferson. When in the "Total War" portion of the game, players team up against a sea landing force of enemy squirrels. The names of each character is visable in white letters above the heads for identification purposes.

One day, Jefferson and I were in the heat of battle in the game. we were the bank of a trench when, in a blur I something that caught my attention.  A squirrel flew by in a blur just below us, in a trench.  I startled my son by yelling, "Did you see that?"  Before he could answer, I took off chasing the squirrel down the winding trench.  My son, now mad and yelling at me for deviating from the game, was trying to keep up.  Finally, I trapped my prey in a cul-de-sac.

"Look at the name of the character I was chasing, Jeff!" I hollared excitedly. The name above my captives head read "Soapy."  Not really knowing, or caring whether "Soapy" squirrel was friend or foe, I did the only thing I could do in that predicament...I shot "Soapy" dead.  

Portraits & Art

Number 84 in a series by H. Rawson in 1941


The Ballad of Soapy Smith,  1981, written by Al Oster
The Ballad of Soapy Smith,  1987, written by Tim Martin


Non-Fiction books

Clifford, Howard, Uncrowned King of Skagway, Sourdough Enterprise, 1997. Well published with common mistakes. Has a different perspective of Soapy's death and who shot him. Howard is a friend of the Smith family having met John Randolph Smith and Jeff Smith in 1973.

Pullen, Harriet S., Soapy Smith Bandit of Skagway: How He Lived; How He Died. Stroller's Weekly Print (Elmer J. White - believed to be a member of the Soap Gang). early 1900s (unknown publication date).

Robertson, Frank G. and Beth Kay Harris, Soapy Smith: King of the Fronteir Con Men, Hastings House, 1961. Probably the best biography made to date.

Shea & Patten, The Soapy Smith Tragedy, Daily Alaskan Print, 1907 (this is the Daily Alaskan newspaper which published Soapy's death in July, 1898).

Westrate, Edwin Victor and William Ross Collier, The Reign of Soapy Smith: Monarch of Misrule, Doubleday, Doran, 1935. The first complete biography. No footnotes, resources given.

Fiction books

UncleScrooge.jpgWalt Disney Comics, Uncle Scrooge, Marvel, June 1994.

In this comic book the story of how Scrooge McDuck (Uncle Scrooge) obtains his riches, all thanks to Soapy Slick (Soapy Smith).

Scrooge goes to Skagway where he buys a fraudulent mine claim from Soapy. When Scrooge finds gold on the claim Soapy tries to claim the mine back.

(Left) Scrooge holds up a gold nugget from his claim as Soapy and his gang start up the hill to rob him.

Fats, A. Conan, The Adventure of the Grace Ghost, Greater Grace Daily Online Gazette. A. Conan Fats, a descendant of English mystery writer A. Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes stories, continues the family tradition of writing. This time Soapy is the villian in THE ADVENTURE OF THE GRACE GHOST

Conceptual art of the Federation starship, U.S.S. Jefferson Randolph Smith (NCC-29402), Sulek-Class, under Captain Tatyana Trofimov, year 2268.

Ford, John M., How Much For Just The Planet? Pocket Books, 1987. Soapy is not a character in this book, but a Star-trek Federation Starship in the year 2268. The U.S.S. Jefferson Randolph Smith (NCC-29402, Sulek-class) is a Federation resource exploratory ship under the command of Captain Tatyana Trofimov.

From the same novel there are other ships named after the Klondike era, such as the U.S.S. Dawson City. It appears John did a little research into mining for the novel. It also appears Ford had a sense of humor.

Miller, Mike, Soapy, Alaskabooks, 1970. A fun fictional paperback read.

Days of 98 Show
with Soapy Smith 

The Days of 98 Show in Skagway, Alaska is a one-hour historic musical comedy drama based on the Skagway adventures of Soapy Smith. The show is seen each summer by thousands of cruise ship tourists who arrive in Skagway each morning and leave at day’s end. On a typical summer day Skagway’s year round population of 800 can swell to more than twelve thousand.

Jim Richard's says in an interview with the local radio station, "
We are taking a little artistic license by putting a show on in Soapy’s saloon, which would be more or less indicative of the shows that were put on during the 1890’s with appropriate turn of the century music. We run through the demise of Soapy Smith We get his name going first; we let people know about how he got his name. Then it switches immediately to his bar here in Skagway. And it’s his last day, and he’s absolutely losing it, and he goes off and gets killed."

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