Museum Minute: A $10,000 Deal

Nov 12, 2019

When Leonard Cody Bell (not related) was nine years old, Buffalo Bill Cody offered him $10,000 if he would keep his hair long until he was 18. By the time Cody Bell was a teenager his hair was 58 inches long. 

Leonard Cody Bell
Credit McCracken Research Library

Eric Rossborough, the associate librarian at the McCracken Research Library, said Cody Bell managed to do it but encountered some problems. 

“In those days, it was illegal to be dressed as a girl in male attire so he was always getting arrested,” said Rossborough. 

The McCracken Research Library has an article from an Indianapolis newspaper, which mentioned Leonard Cody Bell. 

“The young man is busy getting arrested for being a girl in male attire and then getting released in almost every city he visits,” the August 31st, 1910 article reads. “Every policeman he meets wants to send him to police headquarters and men are continually trying to flirt with him, he says.”

When he first entered military school, he was told to cut his hair. But once they realized who had made the request, the school allowed him to keep his hair long. Rossborough said there are pictures of Cody Bell in his military uniform with two buns on the side of his head.

“Cody Bell finally cut his hair when he joined the army at the outset of World War I where he served in France with a medical detachment and played in the army band,” said Rossborough.