William S. Hart, Silent Film Cowboy and citizen of the Santa Clarita Valley & the Hart Park and Ranch/Museum.
William S. Hart was born in Newburgh, New York on December 6, 1864. Hart started his acting career in his twenties. At the age of 49, Hart came west to Hollywood to start his movie career. During the next 11 years, he made more than 65 silent films, the last being "Tumbleweeds" in 1925.
A successful Shakespearean actor on Broadway who had worked with Margaret Mather and other stars, William S. 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. He entered films in 1914 where, after playing supporting roles in two short films, he achieved stardom as the lead in the feature The Bargain. 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.
In 1921, Hart purchased a ranch house and surrounding property in the Santa Clarita Valley. He built a 22-room mansion which today houses Hart's collection of western art, Native American artifacts, and early Hollywood memorabilia. Hart lived at the ranch nearly 20 years until his death in 1946. In his will, Hart gave the Horseshoe Ranch to the County of Los Angeles. It was to be set aside for the use and enjoyment of the public, at no charge. Today, the Horseshoe Ranch consists of 265 acres. Both the ranch house and the Hart residence are open to the public. An assortment of animals reside at Hart Park, including a small herd of bison which were a gift from the Walt Disney Studios in 1962.