Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Yes, There Was A "Broncho Billy"...!

This might have been a name many of us used in jest, but it turns out that there was a character by that name!

The real story, though, is in how the character came about...and why!

You just never know what you might find when exploring history.

Mar 21, 1882:
"Broncho Billy" Anderson born

Gilbert M. Anderson, the first western movie star, is born in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Better known as "Broncho Billy," the name of the western hero he played in over 300 short films, Anderson was the first western movie star. Furthermore, he played several small parts in one of the first movies ever made, The Great Train Robbery. In 1903, Anderson won a role as a bandit in the film after telling the director he could ride like a Texas Ranger. When it became clear that Anderson could hardly get onto a horse, he was made an "extra" and played several minor parts. Later that year, the 10-minute movie received an enthusiastic reception from the public, and Anderson decided to make a career in the promising new business of telling stories in moving pictures.

Anderson moved to Chicago, which was becoming a minor moviemaking center. After a few years directing and occasionally starring in movies produced by others, Anderson decided to create his own production company. Forming a partnership with old friend George K. Spoor, in 1907 Anderson created the Essanay Company, which would later be credited as one of the best of the early movie studios.

At first, Anderson made comedies, but remembering the brilliant success of The Great Train Robbery, he eventually turned to Westerns. Anderson was one of the first movie producers to realize that the public needed a central character in the movies, a "star" on which they could focus their attention. In 1909, though, there were no movie stars and stage actors were reluctant to risk films. Anderson decided to make himself the star, creating the character "Broncho Billy" out of ideas about the West culled from popular dime novels.

In 1909, Anderson released his first western, Broncho Billy and the Baby. It was an enormous success and convinced Anderson that he should stick with Westerns starring the Broncho Billy character. Over the next five years, Anderson made over 300 short one- or two-reel movies featuring Broncho Billy. Physically, Anderson was not especially handsome or dashing, but audiences liked Broncho Billy for his courageous virtue and bravery.

In 1915, Anderson released his last film in the series, Broncho Billy's Sentence, and thereafter turned to writing. A few years later he attempted a comeback, but by then the western field was dominated by more dashing actors like Tom Mix and William S. Hart. He made comedies for several years before retiring. Later recognized and honored for his pivotal role in the development of the Western, in 1965 he made a cameo appearance in a modern Hollywood Western called The Bounty Killer, his first talking picture.

Anderson died in his sleep on January 20, 1971, at the age of 88.

It's always fun to find out the origin of fictional characters, don't you think?

How about some fresh coffee in the kitchen? It's still raining outside, but I have some sweet potato pie I'll share.


Rob In His Bunker said...

Didn't Thomas Edison have something to do with the Great Train Robbery ??

Ben in Texas said...

Hermit,not meaning to hijack your post but here's some more info on the movie you mentioned. The Movie details

Think I'll pass on your sweet potato pie. But I'll take a refill on coffee. :-)

HermitJim said...

Hey Rob...
Edison produced the movie, and it was filmed at his studio.

Kinda started the whole thing.

Thanks for coming by this morning!

Hey Ben...
It's truly something to look back and see how much has changed over the years.

Thanks for the link to the movie and for coming over this morning!

JOJO said...

Again you have taught me something.
Great story
I will take a refill no pie. Trying to get my girly figure back. Like thats every going to happen. hahaha

HermitJim said...

Hey JoJo...
Nothing wrong with your girly figure that I can tell!

Besides, we all know that pie isn't fattening, right?

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!

Sixbears said...

The Westerns had a great run, but seem to have disappeared. My guess is that they'll make a comeback.

HermitJim said...

Hey Sixbears...
I think that most of us will always have a soft spot for the really good westerns, maybe because it seems to be woven into our past so much.

You're probably right about the westerns making a comeback.

Thanks for coming by today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

I enjoyed the post. I love to watch he old westerns. BTW, I have trouble telling the difference between sweet potato pie and pumpkin pli.

HermitJim said...

Hey Dizzy...
Something about the westerns just seems to never go out of style! Don't know just what it is!

Right you are about the taste being almost the same, at least to me.

Thanks for dropping by today, buddy!

BBC said...

Never heard of him but there's a lot of movie stars I've never heard of.

Felinae said...

Thanks, Uncle Hermit,
I always learn something new and interesting from you.

since the pie is made with sweet potatoes, that makes it a vegetable right? so if it's a veggie that means it's healthy. ;)

(who likes to find ways to make her eating of sweets acceptable.):D

BBC said...

(who likes to find ways to make her eating of sweets acceptable.)

Life is uncertain, first thing every morning I eat dessert first. Thanks for reminding me to get some more cinnamon rolls out of the freezer or I would have been screwed in the morning.

BBC said...

Not that I don't enjoy being screwed in the morning, I just don't want it too be because of a lack of dessert.

Oh hell, never mind, I'll go away now.

HermitJim said...

Hey Felinae...
I'm all for having desert made from veggies, as long as it taste as good as sweet potato pie!

Your idea certainly works for me!

Thanks, girl, for coming by today!

Hey BBC...
Nothing wrong as far as I can see, having desert first thing in the morning!

My late grand dad used to eat his deserts first at every meal. He said it was because he might not have room for it later!

Made sense to me! Hey, thanks for dropping by today!

BBC said...

My late grand dad used to eat his deserts first at every meal.

I only eat one small meal a day, not enough to keep most folks alive, but I goddamn well eat dessert first.