William S. Hart (as the title character) and Gordon Russell (as Buck Holden) in a scene from Hart's penultimate film, "Singer Jim McKee" (Paramount 1924).
Caption on back of 8x10 publicity photograph reads:
Singer Jim McKee and Buck Holden watch the pursuit of the posse.
Click to enlarge.
This is probably the log cabin on Hart's Horseshoe Ranch in Newhall that burned down Sunday, June 27, 1926. According to the news story about the fire, The Signal said Hart built it about
three years earlier as a movie prop. The timing is right for it to have been built for "Singer Jim McKee." Afterward, Hart reportely used it as a "relic room."
This publicity photo might show the interior of the cabin.
The Newhall Signal and Saugus Enterprise | Thursday, July 1, 1926.
The log cabin on the W.S. Hart ranch burned Sunday afternoon, under rather mysterious circumstances. The cabin was one built about three years ago to be used as a movie "prop." After the picture was finished, Mr. Hart went on and finished up the cabin, inside, and made it a sort of relic room for the storage of keepsakes of one kind and another.
When the fire was discovered, smoke was coming from the roof, and when Mr. Heinrichs, the caretaker, opened the door, the flames burst out, the whole interior seeming to be a mass of flames. In half an hour, everything was totally consumed, only the stone chimney marking the spot.
The loss, which included the valuables stored, was by the Forestry Service estimated at something like $6,000. It is understood that it is partially covered by insurance.
Mr. Hart was in Montana, attending the Custer memorial, at the time of the fire.
The cause of the fire is not known, but it is surmised that the hot weather caused spontaneous combustion somewhere.
News story courtesy of Evan Decker.
About "Singer Jim McKee."
From Koszarski (1980:131):
Produced by the William S. Hart Company; presented by Adolph Zukor and Jesse Lasky; distributed by Paramount; New York premiere March 23, 1924; released March 3, 1924; ©February 1, 1924; seven reels (7098 feet, later 6900 feet).
Directed by Clifford S. Smith; screenplay by J.G. Hawks from a story by William S. Hart; photographed by Dwight Warren and Arthur Reeves; edited by William Shea.
Print sources: LC; MoMA.
CAST: William S. Hart (Singer Jim McKee); Phyllis Haver (Mary Holden); Gordon Russell (Buck Holden); Edward Coxen (Hamlin Glass, Jr.); William Dyer (Hamlin Glass, Sr.); Bertholde Sprotte (Dan Gleason); Patsy Ruth Miller (Betty Gleason); George Siegmann ("Brute" Bernstein); Baby Turner (Mary, as a baby).
SYNOPSIS: High up in the mountains, "Singer Jim" and his pal Buck are disconsolate because their mine turns out to be worthless. In an old cabin they find the disguise of a notorious bandit, and in desperation to obtain money for his motherless daughter, Buck holds up a stage coach and Jim helps him. The posse trails them. Jim, with the baby, makes a getaway, but Buck is killed by the sheriff. Years later, the girl has grown to womanhood, but at a dance she is shamed by her clothes not being like the others. Jim again figures on taking a chance and robs a stage coach. Giving the money to the girl Mary, she goes to a bank and by the numbers of the bills the money is identified. The banker's son holds her and attempts to attack her. She phones for aid, and with the help of the sheriff Jim arrives in time, but he is caught, accused of the old murder of his pal by the bank president, who was the ex-sheriff, and is sent to prison. After serving his term, Jim, sore on humanity, goes back to the hills. Mary in the meantime learns the truth, and, realizing she loves Jim, goes into the hills and finds him. [Moving Picture World, April 12, 1924]
REVIEWS: Hart [is] a far better actor than author — his latest story [is] a sickly sentimental and soft affair that gives [the] star too much mushing and too little action. ... [This] may please his loyal following ... but those who want the fightin' Bill Hart of old won't think much of this kind of business. Singer Jim McKee, while it gives the star unlimited opportunities for heroics and acts of sacrifice, is overburdened with sentiment. Hart plays around with baby booties, caresses his partner after the latter knocks him down, fondles a parrot, a calf and what-not, besides any number of loving scenes. ... His saddle and horse are sadly neglected. Naturally there is a romantic ending with Bill marrying his adopted child, though according to the lapse in time, he must be much more than twice as old as she is. [Wid's, March 30, 1924]
A typical Bill Hart vehicle, giving our hero a chance to emote over his Pinto pony, to fight a mob single-handed and to prove to one woman that he is one of Nature's noblemen. This is not unlike the last Hart effort, Wild Bill Hickok, in spots. Reminiscent is the moment when Bill — clad in a white shirt — stands up before a firing crowd and manages to stay in one piece. [Photoplay, June 1924]
LW3089: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph purchased 2017 by Leon Worden.