Richard Basil MOORE aka ‘Deadshot Dick’
The rise and fall of notorious Melbourne showman Richard Basil MOORE 1887-1951 aka 'Deadshot Dick'
Richard Basil Moore aka ‘Deadshot Dick’, the colourful character from Melbourne’s beach side suburbs in the early 1900s remains invisible to his family. All photographs of him have either been destroyed or disappeared.
Richard Basil MOORE (1887-1951) was a showman extraordinaire. He was well-known and popular in the Brighton, St Kilda and Toorak areas of Melbourne, from 1907 to 1928. Under the name ‘Deadshot Dick’ he wooed crowds in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs with his cowboy skills. Billboarded as a sharpshooter, lasso expert and buckjumper he dazzled audiences. Legend has it he rode his horse into a Brighton hotel front bar and shot down the top shelf bottles in a display of shooting brilliance. The Village Belle Hotel in Barkly Street, St Kilda was his favourite drinking hole.
Before his ‘showbiz’ days Richard MOORE was a drover and owned a cattle station in the Frankston area. He was often on the wrong side of the law with straying cattle. In one widely reported incident, they derailed the Brighton morning train after escaping from their temporary enclosure. In another, they were caught wandering on footpaths under shop awnings and drinking from horse troughs in Carpenter and Lindsay Streets, Brighton.
The Murder Witness
Richard was a prosecution witness for the “felonious” and “malicious” murder of John FULLERTON at the Yass Showgrounds on 3 March 1910. FULLERTON was the owner of a shooting gallery sideshow and came to the assistance of ‘Snowy’ FLYNN the Boxing Tent Proprietor. FLYNN was set upon by a group of aboriginal youths for underpaying them. FULLERTON received a lethal blow with a tent pole and FLYNN suffered severe head injuries after being hit with a lemonade bottle. Witnesses, including Richard, were unable to identify the person who landed the fatal hit in the melee. The defendants were found not guilty by a jury in Goulburn.
The Carnival Man
After his showbiz days, he still entertained people with his carnival rides. He owned the ‘Dodge ‘em Cars’ at the Mordialloc Fair and the ‘Caterpillar’ ride on the St Kilda Foreshore. Possessing an enterprising flair he had amassed so much wealth by the mid-1920s that he bought a mansion behind Luna Park at 1 Spencer Street, St Kilda. He was so wealthy he could afford to keep maids and a gardener.
The Downward Ride
Unfortunately, his luck ran out in the late 1920s and his life went down faster than the Big Dipper. Lifestyle choices and a severe head injury caused by a run-in with the St Kilda tram sent him into a downward spiral. He was forced to sell his carnival rides in 1928 due to ill health. Soon after he couldn’t afford to look after his wife and four young children. He was found begging on the streets of St Kilda trying to support his family who now lived in one room on Beaconsfield parade.
Two of his sons are still alive, one aged 94 years and the other 92 years. They never saw their father after he was charged with child neglect in 1929. To see a photograph would bring them great pleasure and a great deal of satisfaction.