One week after The Associated Press distributed a "Whatever Happened To"-type feature about William S. Hart, the Los Angeles Times published its own
original feature on the same subject.
Note: There are no pistols in the Hart Mansion today.
William S. Hart, Two-Gun Man of Silent Film Days, Now Lives Calmly Atop Mountain Peak With Guns, Dogs, Books and Horses.
Los Angeles Times | Sunday, July 19, 1936.
Newhall, July 18. — People here say they never saw such a friendly man.
They're always pointing up to his castle-like home, which caps one of the surrounding mountain peaks. But it's not with a spirit of awe or idolatry. William S. Hart is just one of the residents.
And that's the way the original two-gun man of the old silent days wants it to be.
You twist and turn and climb for several minutes before your car pulls to a stop before his tile-roofed castle. And when you step out into an air of genuine leisure you know what he means when he says. "I'm leading a different kind of life now."
"Sure, it's an old story," he says, "this thing about 'I want my horse and my dog and my home.' But I believe in it. I practice it."
Bill Hart's home centers an estate of about 200 acres. The home rambles all over. He thinks it has about sixteen rooms but he's not sure. From the terrace he looks down on Newhall, scattered about on the floor of Little Santa Clara Valley. He looks down on his estate, which is rolling mountains of sage brush and greasewood and everything.
The veteran cowboy says guns aren't particularly his hobby, but the first thing he shows visitors is a valuable collection of firearms. He has guns used by Billy the Kid, Wild Bill Hickok and others. He has the two .45-caliber revolvers he used in pictures.
Bill Hart, tall and straight, still tight-lipped and narrow-eyed, says his eyes aren't so good any more.
"I'll be 64 in December. And yet the other day the Sheriff's station here asked me to take part in shooting practice, and when I showed them some fast and fancy shooting I figured I'd have to apologize for missing the mark so much. I didn't, though. I still can make those babies talk." [Note: Hart always lied about his age. He would turn 72 on his next birthday — Ed.]
Bill Hart's home is warmly rugged inside. It's ail bear rugs, Indian blankets, guns and bows and arrows. And crashing and cavorting through it all are two huge great Danes. The dogs are named Prince Hamlet and Minnie Ha Ha, and if they want to crash and cavort through the house, it's all right. They go where Bill Hart goes.
He's written nine books, autobiographies and fiction. He isn't working on anything now, but he plans more writing.
Riding probably is his greatest activity. He keeps nine horses in stables at his home, and roaming somewhere on his estate are twenty-two more.
"I'm keeping out of parades, though," he says. "Invitations! Why, man, I could be riding 200 horses all over the country at the same time. It just can't be done." [Note: Hart was grand marshal of a parade in Santa Monica the same week this story was written — Ed.]
Always close to his home is Fritz, the 29-year-old pinto that was very nearly aa big a hero in films as was Bill Hart himself. The little old brown and white horse, clean-limbed and spry despite his age, shows the effects of years of painstaking care and attention.
Bill Hart sticks pretty close to home. He likes to be alone. And he didn't look a bit sheepish when he admitted he keeps two loaded revolvers at his bedside. In fact, there was a touch of pride in his voice when he repeated this question asked by a deputy sheriff of two burglary suspects who entered his home:
"How come you fellas had the nerve to sneak into Bill Hart's house?"