Famous Arkansan: Gilbert “Broncho Billy” Anderson

Several well known people have roots in Arkansas. The list runs the gamut from Johnny Cash to Jermain Taylor. Check here every week as we highlight a new Famous Arkansan. This week: Gilbert “Broncho Billy” Anderson


Born in Little Rock in 1880, Maxwell Aronson is best as the
first star of Western films. He grew up in Pine Bluff before moving to New York
to appear in the first western movie production, The Great Train Robbery (
which was 12 minutes long)  in 1903.
Anderson founded the Chicago based
Essany Studios and began developing his Broncho Billy character.
He changed his
professional name ( to Gilbert Anderson) before starring in over 400 Broncho Billy movies. Broncho Billy was the mythic
westerner ( and often an outlaw) with a strong sense of right and wrong. Later, Anderson directed and produced movies in studios in Chicago and
California. Among the talents he discovered was Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin’s
films ( like The Tramp)  went on to
become huge hits for the production company and Anderson appeared in one of the
films ( The Champion) with Chaplin. Anderson is credited with developing many
of the camera techniques that are still used today and he was awarded a special
Oscar in 1958 for his contributions to the industry. He passed away in 1970 at
the age of 90.

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