About William S. Hart
December 06, 1864 - June 23, 1946
|Place of Birth||:||Newburgh, New York, USA|
|Also Known As||:||William Surrey Hart, Two-Gun Bill, W.S. Hart, Wm. S. Hart, Wm. S Hart|
|Imdb Profile||:||IMDB Profile|
The first Western superstar, the taciturn Hart actually was a successful Shakespearean actor who played Messala in “Ben-Hur” on Broadway in 1899 before riding the range in movies. A longtime fan of the Old West, Hart was friends with Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. His film career began in 1914. After two supporting roles he gained fame as the lead in the feature-length western “The Bargain” shot on location at the Grand Canyon. Hart strove to make his westerns realistic with detailed attention played to costumes and props. Though Hart could be cast as a villain, he imbued all of his characters with honor and integrity. After making western shorts for producer Thomas Ince, he went to Famous Players-Lasky, which merged with Paramount Pictures in 1917. At Paramount he made such gritty feature westerns as “Square Deal Sanderson” and “The Toll Gate.” His star began to fade in the early 1920s when audiences grew tired of his moralistic Western tales. Not helping his career was his 1923 divorce from his wife, Winifred, who accused him of having two children by another woman. He made one last film, 1925’s “Tumbleweeds, which he financed himself. In 1939, the film was reissued this time with a prologue featuring a 75-year-old Hart shot on location at his ranch in Newhall talking about the West and his days in films. He died in 1946 at age 81. His home and ranch were turned into William S. Hart Park in Newhall.