Billy the Kid, also known as William Henry McCarty, Henry Antrim and William H. Bonney (allegedly November 23, 1859 – c. July 14, 1881) was a 19th-century American frontier outlaw and gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War. According to legend, he killed 21 men, but he is generally accepted to have killed between four and nine.
McCarty (or Bonney, the name he used at the height of his notoriety) was 5 feet 8 inches (173 cm) to 5 feet 9 inches (175 cm) tall with blue eyes, a smooth complexion, and prominent front teeth. He was said to be friendly and personable at times, and many recalled that he was as "lithe as a cat". Contemporaries described him as a "neat" dresser who favored an "unadorned Mexican sombrero". These qualities, along with his cunning and celebrated skill with firearms, contributed to his paradoxical image, as both a notorious outlaw and beloved folk hero.
Relatively unknown during most of his lifetime, Bonney was catapulted into legend a few months before his death by New Mexico's governor, Lew Wallace, who placed a price on his head, and by stories printed in the Las Vegas Gazette (Las Vegas, New Mexico) and the New York Sun. Many other newspapers followed suit and published stories about Billy the Kid's exploits. After his death, several biographies were written that portrayed the Kid in varying lights.