William S. Hart Park and Home

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From their brochure.

A map of the grounds. I got lost the first time I went. I took the road to the campgrounds.

A map of the grounds. I got lost the first time I went. I mistakenly took the road to the campgrounds. I walked about a mile in the heat turned around and walked a mile back. I was so sweaty when I got back to my car that I went home and came back the next day.

The guard post.

The guard house.

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Translation: The hill of the winds.

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The house cost $93,000 when it was built in 1927.

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The entrance to the home has a great staircase that my camera was only able to partially capture.

The entrance to the home has a great staircase and newel post lamp that my camera was only able to partially capture.

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The big dining room.

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This image of Hart, by James Montgomery Flagg, hangs on one of the walls in the dinning room.

This image of Hart, by James Montgomery Flagg, hangs on one of the walls in the dining room. Flagg did the famous WWI recruiting poster of Uncle Sam pointing with the text, “I Want You.”

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The tour guide said Hart used this breakfast nook more than the formal dining room.

A glimpse of the kitchen. I wish I had those cabinets in my tiny bungalow.

A glimpse of the kitchen. I wish I had those cabinets in my tiny bungalow. That’s a lot of storage. There were even more cabinets in the walk through pantry.

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This early image of Hart is in the foyer. He won the cup and all the medals for speed-walking.

This early image of Hart is in the foyer. He won the cup and all the medals for speed-walking.

At the top of the staircase looking down.

At the top of the staircase looking down into the foyer.

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The living room on the second floor.

I'm including this image because you can see another James Montgomery Flagg painting of Hart's sister. His sister is responsible for his divorce.

I’m including this image because you can see another James Montgomery Flagg painting of Hart’s sister Mary Ellen. His sister was responsible for William S. Hart’s divorce. It came down to an ultimatum. The sister won. The wife lost. Hart never married again.

Originally, when I heard the tale of Hart’s marriage to Winifred Westover, I figured it was a sham Hollywood marriage designed to hide a secret Hart was living with. Hart was 57 and Westover was 22. Married in 1921, he and Westover lived together for less than six months before Hart ordered Westover out of the house.

Westover later said, “We had our difficulties but I am sure that if it had not been for the return of his sister, Miss Mary Hart, we would have been able to adjust our troubles. But after that, nothing I ever did seemed to please him or rather, his sister.”

Westover went on to say, “It was following a long conference between my husband and his sister that I was finally ordered to leave. I could hardly believe my ears. It appeared incredible that a man with any idea of chivalry would order his wife, about to become a mother in a few months, out of her home. I thought he was joking until he sternly reiterated his order…And what added to the humiliation was the fact that guests were present at the time.”

  • Hart and Westover marry on December 7, 1921.
  • A couple of months later Westover announces she is pregnant.
  • Westover is ordered out of the house in May of 1922.
  • Bill, Jr. is born on September 6, 1922.
  • Hart gives Westover sole custody of Bill, Jr.

Their divorce was not finalized until 1927 because Hart and Westover couldn’t agree on a settlement figure. Westover eventually accepted $200,000 even though Hart was worth over $3 million at this point. Despite a world of adoring female fans Hart never married again and settled down into a comfortable existence living in this house with his sister for the last twenty-five years of his life.

When he died in 1946 William S. Hart didn’t leave the house, the land or any money from his estate to his only son, Bill, Jr.

Hart had set up a trust fund for Jr. when he was born but claimed he didn’t want to supply anymore money to Jr. because he was afraid Westover would get her hands on it. Bill, Jr. sued to gain control of the house, land and estate three times (in 1946, in 1950 and in 1955) but lost all three times. Not that it matters but I’m not convinced Bill Jr. was Hart’s biological son.

From a German Wikipedia page on the actress.

Winifred Westover. From a Norwegian Wikipedia page on the actress.

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The opposite wall in the living room.

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This statue of Hart is on the second floor landing. I think it would be weird to be surrounded by statues and photographs of yourself.

This statue of Hart is on the second floor landing. I think it would be weird to be surrounded by statues and photographs of yourself.

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The back patio.

Hart's pinto pony and co-star, Fritz, is buried on the property.

Hart’s pinto pony and co-star, Fritz, is buried on the property.

Hart, on the other hand, is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

Hart, on the other hand, is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York along with his parents and sister Mary Ellen.

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From the gift shop.

I found this nice photo of Bill online which I bought.

I found this nice photo of Bill online which I bought.

At the end of his life William S. Hart couldn't take care of himself so his son was made his executor.

At the end of his life William S. Hart couldn’t take care of himself so his son was made his guardian. That’s Bill Jr. on the left. This is an old wire photo.

This is what the back of the photo says.

This is what the back of the photo says.

I bought this wire service photo off of ebay. Hart, jr. does kind of look like his father there.

I bought this wire service photo off of ebay. Hart, jr. does kind of look like his father there. 1950 was the second time Hart, jr. tried to break the will. 


Davis, R. L. (2003). William S. Hart: projecting the American west. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Oliver, M. (2004, May 25). Obituaries: William S. Hart  Jr., 81; only son of famed silent film cowboy. Los Angeles Times.

Winifred Westover:

https://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winifred_Westover

Million Dollar Theater

I hadn’t been to the Million Dollar Theater for a long time. I saw Nightmare on Elm Street Part IV in this theater years ago. I remember I wasn’t really interested in seeing the movie but I was interested in seeing the theater so I went.

The Los Angeles Conservancy is responsible for a series called The Last Remaining Seats.

The Los Angeles Conservancy is responsible for a series of events called The Last Remaining Seats. They go to different theaters on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles and show classic films. Once again I wanted to see the theater but the movie this time was better. It was Alfred Hitchcock’s PSYCHO from 1960.

Here's a view from Hill Street looking back toward Broadway.

Here’s a view from Hill Street looking at the back of the building. I like that arcade! A.C. Martin was the architect.

I would like to get into one of the apartments on the top floor. They must have great views. William Mullholland evidently had an office here.

There were offices above the theater originally. Now, they’re apartments. They must have great views. William Mulholland evidently had an office in this building. Mulholland was essential in bringing water to Southern California.

This is a side entrance. It's amazing.

This is a side entrance for tenants. It’s amazing.

A close up on some of the detail.

Standing on the sidewalk and looking up.

A bison head.

A bison head.

A longhead steer skull.

A longhead steer skull.

Directly above the side entrance.

An eagle directly above the side entrance.

The front entrance.

The front entrance to the Million Dollar Theater. The building is located at 307 S. Broadway.

This is from Architectural Digest 1922 (there is no month indicated). 2 Interesting things: the building is called the Edison Building and the theater is just called Grauman's. Click on the exterior picture to see what I mean.

This is from Architectural Digest 1922 (there is no month indicated). 2 Interesting things: the building is called the Edison Building and the theater is just called Grauman’s. Click on the exterior picture to see it.

The theater's grand opening was February 1, 1918. The first film shown was The Silent Man starring William S. Hart.

The theater’s grand opening was February 1, 1918. The first film shown was The Silent Man starring William S. Hart. This is an old press photograph.

Corner decoration on the 2nd story.

Corner decoration on the 2nd story.

These statues run across the front of the building above the marquee.

These statues run across the front of the building above the marquee.

She's playing a harp, I think.

She’s playing a harp, I think.

This is from the sidewalk.

This is from the sidewalk.

view from across the street. I don't know what it is but I like it even though I find it kind of scary.

View from across the street. I don’t know what it is but I like it even though I find it kind of scary. I did a little research. It might be THOTH. The Egyptian God of Knowledge.

He's supposed to be comedy and tragedy but he looks pretty scary no matter which mask he's wearing.

He’s supposed to be comedy and tragedy but he looks pretty sinister no matter which mask he’s wearing.

This jester is on the 3rd Street side of the building.

This jester is on the 3rd Street side of the building. (Where the tenant entrance is.)

She's also on the 3rd Street side of the building. She reminds me of my niece.

She’s also on the 3rd Street side of the building. She reminds me of my niece.

It's a rather large building. I couldn't get the entire building with my Kodak Easyshare camera.

It’s a rather large building. I couldn’t get the entire building with my Kodak Easyshare camera.

This is the medallion at the very top in the center.

This is the medallion at the very top in the center.

The Botanica on the north side. This is where the Old Drug used to be.

The Botanica on the north side. This is where the Owl Drug Store is in the Architectural Digest exterior photo. Notice on the window the red words Tempio Santa Muerte. Here is a Wikipedia link to Santa Muerte.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Muerte

This is from a book called, Hollywood's Master Showman The Legendary Sid Grauman by Charles Beardsley. It's a wonderful book and has tons of information on the Million Dollar, Metropolitan, Egyptian and Chinese Theaters. Beardsley did a lot of research. The book is from 1983.

That’s Sid. This photograph is from a book called Hollywood’s Master Showman: The Legendary Sid Grauman by Charles Beardsley. It’s a wonderful book and has tons of information on Grauman’s Million Dollar, Metropolitan, Egyptian and Chinese Theaters. Beardsley did a lot of research for this book and he did a great job.

This is the brochure they handed out at the event.

This is the four page program they handed out at the event.

This is from the brochure. It is a good sumation of the Million Dollar.

This is from the program. There’s a brief history of the Million Dollar on this page and a photo of the stage taken with the house lights on. The photos are by Annie Laskey and Stephen Russo. Russo also has a book called The Last Remaining Seats: Movie Palaces of Tinseltown.

This is at the top of the proscenium. It's called Tragedy Triumphant.

This is at the top of the proscenium. It’s called Tragedy Triumphant. It was designed and modeled by Wm. L. Woollett.

This very small lobby is underwhelming to me.

This very small lobby is underwhelming to me. I had to remind myself that this theater was built before the huge movie palaces of the 1920s. Eventually, I concluded I was wrong. I was looking at a journal called Marquee from 2002 and it had an article on the Million Dollar Theater. That article had old photographs of a large mural that once graced the lobby. That mural is no longer present. They must have remodeled the lobby sometime in the 1940s or 1950s and lowered the ceiling.

The theater, which holds 2,400 people, was sold out. The even took place on a hot day in June. The theater is not air-conditioned. As a result, they opened all the fire doors to let some air in. When I was up in the balcony I stepped out onto the fire escape and took this picture.

The theater, which holds 2,400 people, was sold out for this event and took place on a hot day in June. The theater is not air-conditioned. As a result, they opened all the fire doors to let some air in. When I was walking around the balcony area I stepped out onto the fire escape and took this picture.

This is the standard photo that is used when an article is written about the Million Dollar Theater. Notice the grill work behind the original marquee.

This is the standard photo that’s used when an article is written about the Million Dollar Theater. Notice the grill work behind the original marquee. That’s no longer there. It’s been cemented over. (Image courtesy Beardsley’s book.)

Here's the ticket booth. It looks like it's from the 40s. Very streamlined.

Here’s the ticket booth. It looks like it’s from the 1940s. Very streamlined.

This is a Million Dollar Theater program from 1920 for another William S. Hart movie called The Toll Gate. I think it's very cool. I had never seen one before I bought it. That's the building floating within the proscenium.

This is a Million Dollar Theater program from 1920 for another William S. Hart movie called The Toll Gate. I think it’s very cool. I had never seen one before I bought it. That’s the building floating within the proscenium.

The Million Dollar on a postcard.

The Million Dollar on a postcard.

In October of 2015 I was going through some journals and found these images of the Million Dollar.

In October of 2015 I was going through some journals and found these images of the Million Dollar.

It's an advertisement but a great image of the Million Dollar. I think it's still under construction.

It’s an advertisement but a great image of the Million Dollar. On the right side of the picture in the back is a “neon?” sign with Grauman’s name on top of a genie lamp.

What I would like to find is images of the lobby's interior.

What I would like to find is images of the lobby’s interior.

MILLION DOLLAR THEATER FOUR

My book The Odd Fellows was released on December 16, 2013.

My book The Odd Fellows was released on December 16, 2013.

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  • Grauman’s theater Los Angeles. (1918, August). The Architect, 16(2), 18-20.