Broncho Billy Anderson

Gilbert M. "Broncho Billy" Anderson (March 21, 1880 – January 20, 1971) was an American actor, writer, film director, and film producer, who is best known as the first star of the Western film genre. Anderson was born Maxwell Henry Aronson in Little Rock, Arkansas, the sixth child of Henry and Esther (née Ash) Aronson, natives of New York. His family was Jewish. He lived until age eight in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, then moved with his family to St. Louis, Missouri. At 18, he moved to New York City. He attempted a career in vaudeville and the theatre and supplemented his income as a photographer's model and a newspaper vendor. In 1903, he met Edwin S. Porter, who gave him work as an actor and occasional script collaborator. In Porter's early motion picture The Great Train Robbery (1903), Anderson played three roles. After seeing the film for the first time at a vaudeville theater and being overwhelmed by the audience's reaction, Anderson decided the film industry was for him. Using the stage name Gilbert M. Anderson, he began to write, direct, and act in his own westerns.


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