What can I say? I just love these old images and posters. The artwork and photography is amazing. Time capsules of a bygone era.
But not that long ago.
Big Iron / Cash
Richard Farnsworth, Slim PIckens, and Ben Johnson were not only a ‘Small Fraternity’ of Stuntmen who because famous Film Actors – they were the last of a dying breed of Real Cowboys who were also Movie Stars.
I wouldn’t say there aren’t any Real Cowboys around today. Probably plenty? But those that become Movie Stars / Famous Actors … ??? That surely seems to be of another era.
I wasn’t born till ’48, so most of the early Western Movie Stars had already rode off into the sunset – or were resting at Boot Hill.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t get to see a lot of ’em. Cuz they were galloping back and forth across my B&W TV screen almost non-stop every Saturday morning (down in Homewood, Illinois). I remember that ‘chase scenes’ were particularly popular in those Westerns – with goodguys chasing badguys – or Indians chasing Goodguys – or Cowboys or chasing Indians – or anybody chasing somebody – really fast (I think a lot of those scenes were speeded up). Most of those movies were made in the 30’s and 40’s by studios like RKO and Republic – who churned out dozens of them. A lot of ’em seemed to follow the same plot and were ‘one shot – that’s a take’. I recall watching one movie where I could see a truck driving across the background. No matter – the shot went into the can anyway.
Yet midst all this dust (and foolishness) true artists like John Ford, (Stagecoach (1939), My Darling Clementine (1946 )) and Howard Hawkes, Sergeant York (1941) and Red River (1948) who were already creating Iconic work.
Even further yonder however… before all this – Authentic Cowboys and Western Heroes like Buffalo Bill and Cowgals like Annie Oakley had blazed the trail, setting (and riding) the Stage for the next generation of Heroes to come.
Buffalo Bill is interesting because he was a self-starter – while most of the early Western Western Movie Stars were recruited by studios. Being a Real Cowboy was a definite hiring criteria for a lot (though not all) early Western Stardom.
That said, I had I sorta intended to spit on any Western Movie Stars that wuzn’t REAL cowboys, But hell, how can you spit on William S. Hart!!!?? You just cain’t! A hell of a man with a genuine love for all things Western.
Some images borrowed from Western Movies New Frontier Saloon http://forum.westernmovies.fr/viewtopic.php?t=9508
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, William S. Hart has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1975, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Ghost Riders in the Sky /Artist Unknown
William Surrey Hart (December 6, 1864 – June 23, 1946)
was an American silent film actor, screenwriter, director and producer.
He is remembered for having “imbued all of his characters with honor and integrity.” – Wikipedia
He began his acting career on stage in his 20s, and in film when he was 49, which coincided with the beginning of film’s transition from curiosity to commercial art form … He had some success as a Shakespearean actor on Broadway … he appeared in the original 1899 stage production of Ben-Hur.
Hart went on to become one of the first great stars of the motion picture Western. Fascinated by the Old West, he acquired Billy the Kid’s “six shooters” and was a friend of legendary lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson … Hart was particularly interested in making realistic western films. His films are noted for their authentic costumes and props, as well as Hart’s extraordinary acting ability, honed on Shakespearean theater stages in the United States and England.
By the early 1920s, however, Hart’s brand of gritty, rugged westerns with drab costumes and moralistic themes gradually fell out of fashion. The public became attracted by a new kind of movie cowboy, epitomized by Tom Mix, who wore flashier costumes and was faster with the action. Paramount dropped Hart, who then made one last bid for his kind of western. He produced Tumbleweeds (1925) with his own money, arranging to release it independently through United Artists. The film turned out well, with an epic land-rush sequence, but did only fair business at the box office. Hart was angered by United Artists’ failure to promote his film properly and sued United Artists. The legal proceedings dragged on for years, and the courts finally ruled in Hart’s favor, in 1940.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, William S. Hart has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6363 Hollywood Blvd. In 1975, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
As part of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, California, Hart’s former home and 260-acre (1.1 km²) ranch in Newhall is now William S. Hart Park. The William S. Hart High School District as well as William S. Hart Senior High School, both located in the Santa Clarita Valley in the northern part of Los Angeles County, were named in his honor. A Santa Clarita baseball field complex is named in his honor.
On November 10, 1962, Hart was honored posthumously in an episode of the short-lived The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show, a western variety program on ABC.