Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
> WILLIAM S. HART

One Degree of Separation: Bill Hart and Charlie Manson


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That's right, there's just one degree of separation between the famous silent screen star and the infamous cult leader: The Spahn Ranch.

William S. Hart (b. 12-6-1864, d. 1946) owned the 511-acre ranch once upon a time, evidently using it to stable horses that he rented to film makers. Much later, Charles Manson (b. 11-11-1934) convinced its blind, 81-year-old owner, George Spahn, to let as many as 100 of his disciples, whom he called "The Family," live there rent-free, Manson's young women tending to the old timer's needs.

The ranch became Manson's hideout and the launching pad for The Family's two-day killing spree in 1969 that resulted in the death of actress Sharon Tate and seven others.* This was well after Charlie Manson used to cowboy in Saugus.

Located in Chatsworth near the more famous Iverson Movie Ranch, Spahn's Movie Ranch had been the typical small-time B-Western movie town, but by Manson's day, most of the production consisted of low-budget porn.

In September 1970, as the Manson Family trial was getting underway, the buildings burned down in the great wildfire (the Clampitt Fire) that devoured the open space between the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys. Manson Family members including Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme** stayed on, and filming still went on, but eventually the ranch was sold, graded and subdivided. Today (2003) it is owned by The Church at Rocky Peak, a Christian congregation that still rents it out for film shoots.

The old Spahn Ranch property is located on the south side of Santa Susana Pass Road, next to Santa Susana Pass State Park, just west of the Iverson Road cutoff. Take Highway 101 west to Topanga Canyon Road north to Santa Susana Pass Road.

For photographs and more information visit this site.


* The others killed on Aug. 9, 1969, at the home of Tate and her husband Roman Polanski at 10050 Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills included the couple's unborn baby, Paul Richard Polanski; and Tate's guests for the evening: Jay Sebring, Steven Parent, Abigail Folger and her boyfriend Voytek Frykowski. Two days later The Family murdered businessman Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary at their home. Other victims included stuntman and Spahn ranch hand Donald "Shorty" Shea, who had tried to warn George Spahn about his new tenants; Gary Hinman, a Los Angeles drug dealer and musician who was killed about a month prior to the Tate-LaBianca murders; and Ronald Hughes, a Manson Family defense attrorney who was killed during the course of the trial. Manson and several Family members received the death penalty, but their sentences were commuted to life in prison when the California Supreme Court overturned capital punishment.

** Fromme was sentenced to life in prison for her Sept. 5, 1975, attempt to assassinate President Gerald Ford.

HART CATEGORIES:
• Stage Career
• Hart Films
• Publicity Photos
• Hart as Author
• WWI War Bonds
• Hart Mansion
• Hart in Retirement
• Personal Life
• Hart in Artwork

WILLIAM S. HART FILMS

WATCH FULL MOVIES
Keno Bates, Liar (1915)
Knight of the Trail (1915)
The Ruse (1915)
The Cradle of Courage (1920)
White Oak (1921)
Tumbleweeds (1925/1939)
ALSO:
Farewell to the Screen, from Tumbleweeds Re-release (1939)


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Biography
(Mitchell 1955)

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Biography
(Conlon/McCallum 1960)

Essay: The Good Bad Man (Griffith & Mayer 1957)


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Film Bio, Russia 1926

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The Disciple 1915/1923

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The Captive God 1916 x2

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The Aryan 1916 x2

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The Primal Lure 1916

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The Apostle of Vengeance (Mult.)

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Return of Draw Egan 1916 x2

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Truthful Tulliver 1917

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The Gun Fighter 1917 Theater Invoice

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Wolf Lowry 1917

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The Narrow Trail 1917 (mult.)

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Riddle Gawne 1918 x2

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"A Bullet for Berlin" 1918 (4th Series)

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The Border Wireless 9-29-1918 Rialto Premiere

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Branding Broadway 1918 x2

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Breed of Men 2-2-1919 Rivoli Premiere

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The Poppy Girl's Husband 3-23-1919 Rivoli Premiere

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The Money Corral 4-20-1919 Rialto Premiere

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Square Deal Sanderson 1919

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Wagon Tracks 1919 x2

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Sand 1920 Lantern Slide Image

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The Toll Gate 1920 x3

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The Cradle of Courage 1920

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The Testing Block 1920: Slides, Lobby Cards, Photos (Multiple)

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O'Malley/Mounted 1921 (Mult.)

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The Whistle 1921 (Mult.)

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White Oak 1921 (Mult.)

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Travelin' On 1921/22

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Three Word Brand 1921

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Wild Bill Hickok 1923 x2

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Singer Jim McKee 1924 (Mult.)

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"Tumbleweeds" 1925/1939

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