The First Cowboy Star: William S. Hart

Born during the Civil War, William Hart became a stage actor, moving from Shakespearean roles to silent film during the World War I years. He became the first Western cowboy star at the ripe old age of fifty.

Fascinated with the Old West, which he had known first hand, Hart became friends with Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. He reportedly owned Billy the Kid’s six shooters. He made realistic westerns, with accurate costumes and storylines. These were gradually replaced by flashier, romanticized cowboys who dressed is exaggerated western gear and, with the advent of sound, even sang songs. By 1924, he was passé. Paramount dropped him, and he pretty much retired. By then, he was sixty years old.

Go to and you can see his last silent film, Tumbleweeds, made in 1925, to which he later added sound at the beginning and the end. If 20 minutes is too long, go to minute 15 or so and listen to his farewell to his fans.

Bill Hart was honored with a postage stamp this year, along with three other film star cowboys.

Published in: on September 12, 2010 at 3:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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