Birth date of William S. Hart, silent film cowboy
Hollywood was first introduced to the cowboy thanks to a tall, stoic, and square-jawed hero named William S. Hart, who defined the role in many silent films. Hart was born in 1864 in New York, but lived for some time in the Dakota Territory, where he learned the ways of the Wild West. He moved back to New York to work as a postal clerk but decided instead to take up acting. Hart lit up on stage in plays like “Ben-Hur” and “The Virginian,” until he finally caught the eyes of filmmakers Thomas H. Ince and Adolph Zukor. Between 1914 (when he starred in his first film His Hour of Manhood) and 1925 (when he starred in his last, Tumbleweeds), Hart became a reliable, valiant legend in over 65 films. He began to step out of the limelight in the 20s, making way for other silver screen cowboys like Tom Mix and Hoot Gibson, but Hart was always set apart for his complexity and moral grounding. He retired to a ranch in Newhall, California, where he died in 1946. Hart donated his estate to the city of Los Angeles on the grounds that it would preserve it as a museum. Today, the William S. Hart Ranch and Museum is home to an animal barnyard and bison, hiking trails and picnic areas, Hollywood memorabilia, and some of the finest Native American artifacts and western art in the nation.
What do you think defines a movie cowboy? If you donated anything you owned to your city, what would it be?