The star surprised attendees at the celebration of Doc Holliday, the gunslinger Kilmer famously portrayed in the 1993 film named after the town.
Val Kilmer rode through the streets of Tombstone in a horse-drawn wagon to the chants of “We love you Val!” on Saturday as the actor returned to the Old West town that was the setting of one of his most famous roles.
Kilmer came to Tombstone for the “Doc Holli-Days” event to celebrate the life of gunslinger Doc Holliday, whom Kilmer played in the 1993 movie Tombstone. He also met with fans and was to attend a party to mark Holliday’s birthday on Aug. 14.
Kilmer wore a cowboy hat, sunglasses and bright green shoes as he was led through town in the 1880s coach.
“Ladies and gentlemen might I please introduce one of the stars — if not the star, period — of our favorite movie and the object of our inaugural Doc Holli-Days, Val Kilmer,” the public address announcer said as fans cheered and snapped up pictures.
Tombstone was once a bustling mining town that became synonymous with the Wild West following the shootout at the O.K. Corral involving Holliday and Wyatt Earp. The mines shut down years ago, but the town near the U.S.-Mexico border remains a popular tourist destination. The town saw a surge in popularity after the hit 1993 movie Tombstone, starring Kilmer, Kurt Russell and Sam Elliot. The movie was filmed at various locations in Arizona, but not in Tombstone.
Kilmer visited the town during the making of the movie but hadn’t been back since. Gunfight re-enactments are the event’s big draw, but Kilmer will not participate in them, said Bruce Nielsen, president of the local Lions Club, which is organized the parade. Many of the Doc Holli-Days events were sold out, generating concerns about crowd sizes. “I am concerned that the town is going to be overwhelmed,” Nielsen said.
Doc Holli-Days is one of several weekend celebrations that Tombstone holds throughout the year, including Wyatt Earp Days and Helldorado Days.
It was during the 2015 Helldorado when an actor used real bullets instead of blanks during the re-enactment of a duel, wounding a participant and causing minor injuries to a bystander. That prompted the town to write new regulations for its gunfights.