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William S. Hart Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (9) | Personal Quotes (1) | Salary (4)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 6 December 1864Newburgh, New York, USA
Date of Death 23 June 1946Newhall, California, USA
Birth NameWilliam Surrey Hart
Nickname Two-Gun Bill
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

A storybook hero, the original screen cowboy, ever forthright and honest, even when (as was often the case) he played a villain, William S. Hart lived for a while in the Dakota Territory, then worked as a postal clerk in New York City. In 1888 he began to study acting. In 1899 he created the role of Messala in "Ben-Hur", and received excellent reviews for his lead part in "The Virginian" (1907). His first film was a two-reeler, His Hour of Manhood (1914). In 1915 he signed a contract with Thomas H. Ince and joined Ince's Triangle Film Company. Two years later he followed Ince to Famous Players-Lasky and received a very lucrative contract from Adolph Zukor. His career began to dwindle in the early 1920s due to the publicity surrounding a paternity suit against him, which was eventually dismissed. He made his last film, Tumbleweeds (1925), for United Artists and retired to a ranch in Newhall, CA. By that time audiences were more interested in the antics of a Tom Mix or Hoot Gibson than the Victorian moralizing of Hart. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery, NY.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Spouse (1)

Winifred Westover (1921 - 1927) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (9)

Donated his estate to the City of Los Angeles, on the condition they install a fountain and use the park for the arts. Today, the internationally renowned Actors Studio has its West Coast branch at the William S. Hart Park, in West Hollywood, in Hart's old estate.
Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1975.
Hart High School in Newhall, CA, is named after him--in fact, the entire school district is named after him.
An interesting footnote, the famous prohibition lawman (also once a bodyguard for the President Of The United States) "Two Gun Hart" changed his name to that of this famous actor and in some ways patterned his life after him. The real-life lawman Two Gun Hart seldom revealed his birth name, which was James Vincenzo Capone. He was the older brother of infamous gangster Al Capone (see "Capone: The Man And The Era" by Laurence Bergreen).
In March of 1923 Hart, already being sued for divorce by wife Winifred Westover, was accused by her of fathering a child by another woman. This hurt his already declining career and from 1924 to 1925 he would release only two films, before retiring.
Was a friend of legendary wild west lawman Wyatt Earp, and along with fellow silent movie cowboy star Tom Mix, was a pallbearer at Earp's funeral in 1929.
His mansion in Newhall, California, is now a museum and has been preserved with its original fixtures and furnishings intact.
While living in semi-retirement in Newhall, he was disturbed by a plane which kept flying over his house. The plane was being piloted by Amelia Earhart, and they ended up becoming good friends after he invited her to dinner in order to complain about the noise her plane was making.
Owner of William S. Hart Productions (1920-25; aka The William S. Hart Co.), a film production company.

Personal Quotes (1)

[on charges of extreme cruelty during his pending divorce from Winifred Westover] I'll stand on the summit of Mount Hollywood and defy the whole world to prove that I have ever done wrong to man or woman.

Salary (4)

The Disciple (1915) $125 per week
The Aryan (1916) $1,125 per month
The Return of Draw Egan (1916) $875
The Narrow Trail (1917) $150,000

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