Hart, William S.

Hart, William S. (Surrey)

(1870–1946) movie actor, director; born in Newburgh, N.Y. Learning about the West through youthful travels with his father, he went on the New York stage at age 19 and achieved considerable fame as a Shakespearean and serious actor. He made his first movie at age 44 and was soon directing (and occasionally writing) his own films, usually Westerns in which he tried to convey the authentic Old West, with realistic sets and costumes as well as plots and character, but with little action and less romance. Although immensely popular and critically acclaimed for a decade, he sued United Artists after making Tumbleweeds (1925) and this put an abrupt end to his film career. He spent his later years writing Western novels and an autobiography.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.