The first Western star was Max Aronson, aka Gilbert M. Anderson aka Broncho Billy (pictured). In the early 1900s in a studio in Niles, California, Anderson produced more than 375 one-reel Westerns featuring Broncho Billy. Initially, Anderson couldn’t even sit on a horse. Indeed, he was thrown on the first day of filming. Eventually, he learned how to ride, and his portly character became an unlikely hero.
William S. Hart, an actor, screenwriter, director and producer, was the foremost Western star of the silent era. Indeed, he frequently ranked high in popularity contests held by movie fan magazines.
Born in New York, Hart was brought up in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He began his acting career on stage in his 20s and enjoyed success in Shakespearean productions on Broadway.
Mindful of his upbringing, Hart strived for realism in his movies. He also imbued all of his characters with honour and integrity.
Although Hart married and divorced in later life, his closest companion was his sister Mary, whom he referred to as his “constant advisor”.
The movies love a good fistfight. Screenwriters like them too because they are easier to write than lines of dialogue. The classic movie fight of all time occurred in The Spoilers, 1914. A barroom brawl lasted for a full reel. The movie has been remade four times – 1923, 1930, 1942 and 1955 – but none of the subsequent brawls matched the original.
Douglas Fairbanks shows that, in the movies, one good guy is worth at least nine bad guys.
The Black Pirate, 1926.
Polls from The Film Daily and Photoplay Magazine in 1925 to discover the top box office attractions. Lots of overlap, but in the actor/actress category only Gloria Swanson appeared in the top three of both polls.