Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Broncho Billy Anderson
He was born Max H. Aronson to a Jewish family in Little Rock, Arkansas (some sources say Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and his date of birth is also uncertain, possibly on March 10th). Raised in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Anderson had worked as a photographer's model and newspaper vendor before drifting into acting. He performed in vaudeville before joining forces with Edwin S. Porter as an actor and occasional script collaborator. In Porter's early film The Great Train Robbery of 1903, Anderson played several roles and afterward began to write, direct, and act in his own Westerns. Using the stage name Gilbert Anderson, he became the first cowboy star of film through a large collection of silent film shorts in which he was known as "Broncho Billy."
In 1907, he and George K. Spoor founded Essanay Studios, destined be one of the predominant early studios. Anderson gained enormous popularity in a series of hundreds of Western shorts, playing the first real cowboy hero, "Broncho Billy."
Writing and directing most of the films, Anderson also found time to direct a series of "Alkali Ike" comedy Westerns starring Augustus Carney . In 1916, Anderson sold his ownership in Essanay and retired from acting. He returned New York and bought the Longacre Theatre and produced plays there, though without permanent success. He then made a brief comeback as a producer with a series of shorts with Stan Laurel but conflicts with the studio (Metro) led him retire again after 1920. He continued to produce films as owner of Progressive Pictures into the 1950's. In his seventies, he came out of retirement for a cameo role in The Bounty Killer (1965).
He was presented with an Academy Honorary Award in 1958 as a "motion picture pioneer, for his contributions to the development of motion pictures as entertainment." He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Broncho Billy Anderson died in 1971 at the Motion Picture Country Home in Los Angeles, California. He was cremated and his ashes are stored in the vault at the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles.
In 1998, he was honored posthumously with his image on a U.S. postage stamp. In 2002, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
See also: Other notable figures in Western films
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