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Al Swearengen

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Al Swearengen
Al Swearengen

Portrayed by:

Ian McShane

First Seen:


Last Seen:

Tell Him Something Pretty

Episode Count





Mr. Wu


Cy Tolliver

"Welcome to fucking Deadwood!"

- Al Swearengen

Al Swearengen is the proprietor of the Gem Saloon.

The Gem Saloon, which offers games of chance, alcohol, and prostitution, also acts as Swearengen’s base of operations.

Before DeadwoodEdit

From what can be gathered from several monolgues, Albert Swearenger had, as a child, been abused in some way and placed rather hurriedly into an orphanage at a very young age. His reactions to the sickness of Reverend Smith indicate that he must have had a brother with some kind of brain illness.

Season 1Edit

Season 2Edit

Season 3Edit

From HistoryEdit

Ellis Albert "Al" Swearengen (1845 – 1904) was a pimp and entrepreneur in Deadwood, South Dakota, running the Gem Theater, a notorious brothel, for 22 years. Unlike so many of Deadwood's residents who left home at a young age to make their fortunes on the wild frontier, Swearengen remained at home well into his adult years, arriving in Deadwood in May, 1876 with his wife, Nettie Swearengen. Nettie would later divorce him on the grounds of spousal abuse, and Swearengen would marry two more times, both marriages ending as the first. Swearengen was one of the first Deadwood residents not to be a prospector or miner; he represented the beginning of a second wave of residents, attracted there by the promise of riches to be stripped not from the earth, but from the prospectors and miners. He built a small saloon called the Cricket Saloon, which featured "prize fights", although no prizes were actually awarded. Within a year, Swearengen had accumulated enough money to build the much larger and more opulent Gem Variety Theater, which opened on April 7, 1877, featuring the now traditional "prize fights" in addition to stage shows, and, mainly, prostitution. Swearengen lured desperate young women from far away to Deadwood, then forced them into prostitution through a combination of bullying and physical brutality, by himself and his henchmen. The results were highly lucrative. When it burned down along with much of the town on September 26, 1879, Swearengen rebuilt it larger and more opulent than ever, to great public acclaim. Swearengen's talent for canny alliances and financial payoffs kept him insulated from the general drive to clean up the town, including the otherwise successful work of Seth Bullock, until the Gem burned down once again in 1899. He was remarried the same year to Odelia Turgeon. It appears that the Methodist church in Deadwood - which also took a moralist crusade to clean up the town - specifically targeted the Gem Theate


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