William S. Hart–AND A GIVEAWAY

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William S. Hart was one of the first great stars of the silent screen motion picture western. (read oh, so carefully to find a chance to win my May 1st release Wildflower Bride-I just got my author’s copies and I’M SUPER EXCITED AND IN THE MOOD TO SHARE!)

william Hart portraitWesterns with their classic situations – the fight in the saloon, the faithful horse, the dude who goes west, the sheriff who cleans up the town, the showdown, the trip west in a covered wagon — what are now considered film clichés were first introduced to film audiences in 1914 with the arrival of William Surrey Hart.

Hart was a stage actor until the age of 49. At that age, after a long career of playing Shakespearean theater in the United States and England, he headed for Hollywood and silent films. And—get this—he made 65 films in the next eleven years. How’s that for productive, huh?

When he got to Hollywood, Hart was disgusted by the “pretty boy” Westerns that were currently being produced. He began directing and acting in his own productions. His films reflected his rugged vision of the West. Hart often used real Indians, gamblers, prostitutes, and saloon entertainers in films.

The themes of his films generally relied upon a “transformation,” where the love of a good woman, a “Sunbonnet Sue” tamed the wild man and transformed him into the man of virtue we knew him to be all along. And now, aren’t we all still in william Hart Stamplove with that formula in romance novels, huh?

Sometimes the roles were switched: Hart as the noble cowboy who tames the bad girl. Often the bad-woman-turned-good redeemed herself by dying for her man, stepping in front of him to take the bullet. How come the man gets to be transformed but the woman has to die? Huh? Ask yourself that?

But by the late ‘teens, Hart, now sixty saw his career wane in popularity. Hart’s age and unwillingness to tamper with the formula was supplanted by Tom Mix, with his “action and excitement spiced with a boyish sense of fun.” Westerns began catering to an increasingly younger audience, and Hart faded from view.

Disheartened, Hart retired from the screen, only to try one last comeback in 1925 with, Tumbleweeds. The film was only a minor success. Hart retired from films, making one last public appearance in 1940 with a sound prologue to a re-issued Tumbleweeds. Just listen for a few minutes to William S. Hart in the clip below. He has a fantastic voice. You can easily believe he was trained in Shakespearean theater.

William S. Hart, the Western matinee idol of the silent screen died June 23, 1946 in Los Angeles. On April 17, 2010, the United States Postal Service will release a series of four stamps, Cowboys of the Silver Screen. Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Tom Mix, and William S. Hart

And now here’s your chance to get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of Book #3 in the Montana Marriages series, Wildflower Bride. Have you ever seen a silent movie? I’ve seen clips. Usually a charging train, belching smoke, scary piano music in the background. Simple question, yes or no. If it’s yes, tell me about it.

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Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

62 thoughts on “William S. Hart–AND A GIVEAWAY”

  1. Hi Mary, great blog! I confess I never really ever even heard of this guy. So…now I know.

    I actually watched The Sheik with Rudolf Valentino once. It supposedly was filmed at a beach near my house that’s still called Hollywood-by-the-sea. Their over-done facial expressions just had me laughing out loud. Therefore, I was more interested in that than the plot and can’t tell you a thing about what happened LOL. oxoxox

    Congrats on your new book. oxoxoxox

  2. Wow,great topic,I know I have but I cant remember the name,im sure it was at the local show in town,I remember Tom Mix being in a western so that may have been it,wow,thats been a long time ago

  3. HI Mary! I spent many Saturday afternoons at William S. Hart Park in Newhall, California as a kid. Hart owned it and enjoyed living there. I remembered seeing the house, his horse’s grave, some outbuildings. William S. Hart Park High School burned down some time ago, but it stood for a long time. Interesting man and beautiful spot for a picnic!

    Silent movies… I sat through a “Perils of Pauline” for a history class at UCLA. We watched “Birth of a Nation,” too. They must have been so compelling in their time. With modern eyes, not so much!

    Congratulations on the new release!!!

  4. Yes, I can remember watching a silent movie a long time ago. I don’t remember too much about it other than I think it was Charlie Chaplin. I’m not a black and white movie fan anyway and I found the music distracting.

  5. Yes. I’ve watched one silent movie, but I can’t remember the name.

    It was a “murder mystery” I DVR’d with no intentions of watching, just thought my kids might get a kick out of seeing what movies used to be like (you know, in the days when Mom was a kid and dinosaurs walked the earth).

    I totally got into it. Never thought I would. Darn, I wish I could remember the name. It was a classic whodunit, probably where the idea of the game Clue originated. Of course, now I can’t even remember if the butler did it, but I’m guessing he did.

    Wishing you much success with your newest release!

  6. Have seen pieces of Birth of a Nation like the other commentor for a class, Charlie Chaplin too. But what I remember the most is the stereotypic heroine tied on the railroad tracks and getting rescued by the hero.

    The piano music really made those movies. We don’t notice how important background music is but for silent movies, those piano players were just carried the audience along with the story.

    Congrats on your latest. I just got introduced to you through Gingham Mountain and look forward to reading more of your books.

  7. I have seen the silent films where the girl and guys faces are all made up and it’s very theatrical. I’ve only seen clips though so I am not very familiar with it all.

  8. I have never seen a silent film, but please enter me in the draw! 🙂
    God Bless!

  9. Did you click on that video and listen to him talk? He’s got a fantastic voice. Very theatrical, shakesperean. Beautiful.

    Two things jummped out at me.
    1) 65 films in eleven years. Do that math on that one. six films a year? A film every two months? Wow, that’s even faster than I write books!!!
    2) He went to Hollywood when he was 49. Think about that. He became an action movie hero at age 49. These days actors are washed up when they hit 30.

  10. hart sounds like a man’s man. i like that!
    yes, he did have the right formula, eh? ‘cept for the woman dying in the end…i much prefer happy endings 🙂

    i couldn’t watch the clip here at work…i usually check my blogs at home…but ran out of time this morning getting the girls ready
    i’ll have to check back later

    silent movies…only brief clips of them in parody
    doesn’t seem like something i’d like…but, you never know…i should watch one

    ps–i’m reading, The Husband Tree right now and I’m LOVING it!! not only is it a good read, but it also contains some good lessons that really have me thinking about my own life (which is allowing me not to consider it just pleasure reading….but, also a self improvement book 🙂

    gonna have to get, Wildflower Bride one way or another…winning would be a great way to do it 🙂 thanks for the chance!

  11. Yes I do remember seeing one I believe it was with Charlie Chaplan. Couldn’t for the life of me tell you what it was about – guess it didn’t make that much of an impact LOL.

    Thanks for the chance to win a book.

  12. I have never seen a silent movie except for clips that they put on the t.v. and in some movies. Loved reading about William…

  13. I have never seen a silent movie all the way through, though I have seen clips. Please enter me in the drawing–I can’t wait to read “Wildflower Bride”!

  14. Sure I’ve seen a silent movie. Yep, chargin train. The music is most suspenseful.

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  15. I have seen clips, never seen a silent western all the way through. I have seen some Douglas Fairbanks silent films.

    I have heard of William S. Hart and love the info here, great blog!

  16. Mary, this is a great subject. I really love his voice; and, the music on the trailer is reminiscent of my youth when my sisters and I would go to the movies and watch cowboy stories…and I’m not ancient either, just well rounded in years. Enjoy the post!

  17. He does have an almost regal bearing about him, doesn’t he? And I’m still a sucker for the formula of the love of a good woman making a man want to be a true hero.

    Never seen a full silent movie, but loved Singing in the Rain as they chronicled the change from silent to talkie – in a musical, of course. Does that count?

  18. Hi Mary – I’ve been to the Hart Estate in Saugus, CA. It was fascinating to be on the grounds. They’ve named a high school after him. He was a fascinating man!! Great post. Looking forward to your next book!!

  19. I don’t think I’ve had the chance to see an entire silent movie; like you, I’ve seen clips. It’s remarkable what things haven’t changed and what things have in the movies of today!

  20. Someone said…I think it was Mary Pickford? Lillian Gish?
    Some silent film actress who was HUGE, had such a dreadful voice that when ‘talkies’ came in she was done, washed up.

    I have now started a rumor about Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish’s voice. It was probably someone else. Those are just old, old movie actress names that popped into my head.

  21. Hi, Mary! Congrats on having such a big year in 2010! Brava 🙂

    I have seen lots of clips from silent movies, some of them are very dated, but some of them are also fascinating! I have watched one complete silent film, and I have to say it is quite a gem. It is called “The Wind”. It was released in 1928, and it stars the unequaled Miss Lillian Gish. Letty, played by Miss Gish, is an unworldy, sheltered Eastern woman who moves from Virginia to live at her cousin’s ranch in Sweet Water, Texas. Many new experiences befall Letty, who is soon overcome by fear and commits a life-changing act. I guarantee that if you watch this movie, you won’t even realize that there was no audio dialogue. The performances, especially by Miss Gish with her expressive face and eyes, and the fantastic special effects are beyond words.

  22. Great post Mary, I will have to say I have never seen a silent movie! I am not real sure I would want to. I think I would have problems keeping up with what was going on! Interesting though!

    ghurt110 AT bellsouth DOT net

  23. Hi Mary,

    I can recall my grandparents watching something like that on TV when I was young. Of course, being a kid I thought, “How bored” watching something that you cannot hear

    Anyway very interesting post It never seems to amaze me how I learn something everytime I drop by P&P

    Thanks Mary Hope to win

    Walk in harmony,

  24. Great blog, Mary. I’ve seen a couple of Charlie Chaplin’s silent films. The genre is so interesting – the way light is used to emphasize the story, for instance. Makes me want to Netflix one right now. 🙂

  25. I have seen a silent movie on t.v. once, but I don’t remember the gist of it. Of course, there are always those clips of Pauline and her perils. 🙂

    But, this is cool—my great-aunt used to play the piano for silent movies at the Paramount Theater in Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 1918 to 1922! Aunt Isabelle told me that she would get the music about a week before the movie came to the theater and she would practice it to put her own interpretation on the suggestions given.

  26. We had an old 8mm movie projector as a kid and would watch home movies and we had an Abbott & Costello silent movie. We loved to watch it and then Dad would always run it backwards and we would laugh like crazy!

    Michelle V

  27. You know, Michelle, I had an uncle who took movies of us all the time. I have asked him about that. I’d love to see some of them.

    But I’ve never gotten any headway on it. Apparently he has BUSHELS of these movies in his house and wading through them is brutal and converting them to a disk or some kind of video tapes is terribly expensive. And no one has the equipment any more to even watch them.

    There could be pictures of ME as an adorable child.

    You know, maybe it’s best to just leave me with my fantasies rather than see the movies and realize I was just another grubby little kid. eek

  28. Mary, I should clarify that she said most of the music was the same for most movies. So, she really didn’t have to learn new “stuff”, just improvise on the old music.

  29. I took a film class 30 odd years ago and I know we saw several. Only two films really stuck with me, the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a silent film, and The Bicycle Thief. I do remember that I had a great time in that class.

  30. Veggie Tales has a silent movie?

    I’m so intrigued. I’ve missed that one.

    And, here’s a thought, is it possible we can’t remember any of the DETAILS of these movies because they are all … uh …. BAD?

  31. Mary, congratulations on Wildflower Bride’s release! That’s always exciting. I hope you sell a million copies.

    I wasn’t familiar with William S. Hart so I was glad to learn about this movie cowboy. What a guy! He started late but really dove in and made the movies. The video is neat and a great preservation of a piece of history. Wow, his voice was so dramatic! You must’ve been ecstatic to find this.

    I’m not a fan of silent movies. The acting usually isn’t that good but I’m sure that was due to the early method of filming. The stories are little hard for me to get into because I start laughing at the jerky movements. But the industry had to start somewhere and I’m glad it did.

  32. I’ve never seen a silent movie before, at least not that I can remember. I also haven’t had a desire to. I don’t care for reading my movies.


  33. I have never had the chance to see a silent movie. I think the closest that I have ever been to seeing one is maybe some old clips on The 3 Stooges or something like that.

    I am reading The Husband Tree, right now and LOVE it!

  34. I do not think I have actually watched a whole silent film… just bits and pieces here and there… Those stamps are pretty neat! 😀 Congrats on your soon to be released Wildflower Bride!

  35. Hi, Mary,

    My son is a film buff and always has a new film
    for us to see, including silents. Yet I don’t
    think I’ve ever seen an entire silent film, just
    bits and pieces.

    Pat Cochran

  36. Hi Mary,

    I saw a silent Charlie Chaplin movie years ago on TV, but I’m sure it would not compare to the theater version with a piano player. I wonder if they had snack bars and popcorn back then.

    I just finished Montana Rose and I can’t wait to see how you turned poor misguided Wade into a hero. You sure had your work cut out for you there! I’ll be starting Husband Tree next.

    Prayers and best wishes for your continued success with the release of Wild Flower Bride. I am totally hooked on your books!!!

  37. No, I’m afraid I’ve only seen clips and not an entire movie – not sure I could sit through an entire one lol.

  38. yes, I have seen a black and white Charlie Chaplin silent movie; it definitely is different with no voices.

    I really like the title Wildflower Bride and would enjoy reading it I’m sure.


  39. Robin, Wildflower Bride releases May 1st. So whoever wins it today will be getting it ahead of time…assuming I get my act together enough to MAIL IT!!!

    Always with the disclaimers. Sorry.

  40. Hi, Mary.

    I’ve seen a few silent movies: Mel Brooks’ “Silent Movie” – Hysterical. Lon Chaney in “Phantom of the Opera” – Terrifying. And a reel of “The Creature From The Black Lagoon” that my Grandfather had without sound. Silent movies are fun – a bit cheesy, maybe because of the overacting – but I love to watch and make up my own dialogue!

  41. Loved the video, Mary! What a voice. Kept picturing him as King Lear!
    One of the scariest movies ever made was the silent film, Nosferatu, the original version of Dracula. Talk about creepy…

    Congrats on your book. It sounds wonderful!

  42. While I was researching Hart I found pictures of him in Shakespearean clothing, then I heard that voice and it was so easy to imagine him on the stage. So funny he made silent films with that extraordinary voice.

  43. Yes you can tell he had a career on stage. Looks like I wasn’t the only one who thought King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet. The second part of the clip especially was very melodramatic. His presentation, especially his voice and speech pattern, brought back the feel of the time and the silent movies. One thing that struck me in his clip was the sorrow felt for the cattlemen who were watching their grazing land overrun and settled. No tears for the native people who saw their lives and homes destroyed so those cattlemen could have the grazing land. I know, different times and different point of view.

    I don’t believe I have ever watched a full silent movie. I’ve seen clips and a few shorts, several by Charlie Chaplin and the Keystone Cops.

    Great post. Congratulations on your new book. Good luck with the release.

  44. Mary, what an interesting blog! When I was a small child staying at my grandparents, oh so many years ago, the town would show movies out of doors on the side of a building. I saw several silent movies then. As I remember mostly westerns. I do remember William Hart, and talking about this brings back the smells and sounds of a very special time!

    I just finished Black Hills Blessing. I could hardly put it down!! Loved it!

  45. I’ve never actually watched a silent movie just little clips here and there shown on other T.V. shows/movies.

  46. I’ve seen clips of Mae West, Veronica Lake, Errol Flynn and Charlie Chaplin.

    We’ve really come a long way!

    johnslake at usa dot com

  47. I’ve never actually sat down and watched an entire silent movie. I’ve just seen clips here and there. Movies have changed a lot in the years – not always for the better!

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