Broncho Billy Anderson: Arkansas’ Own Oscar-Winning Movie Star
A Celebration of His Life and Work
Reception, talk and screening of short films
Special Guests: David and Rena Kiehn, world authorities on silent cinema
Free; reservations required
Join us for a celebration of Broncho Billy Anderson on
his 138th birthday. We’ll have a reception featuring Jewish foods from his childhood (sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Arkansas) and a presentation by David and Rena Kiehn, founders of the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, CA. Some of Broncho Billy’s short films will be introduced and shown.
Before his rise to fame, Broncho Billy Anderson was born Max Henry Aronson on March 21, 1880, to Jewish parents at a house on 713 Center Street in Little Rock, Arkansas (currently the location of First United Methodist Church). Later, Aronson moved to Pine Bluff.
Aronson, known as Gilbert Anderson, played a huge role in defining not only silent films but the early cowboy-western genre. As Broncho Billy Anderson, he was the first cowboy-western movie star. Along with producing, directing and starring in 140 films as Broncho Billy Anderson, he is credited with being the first to sign Charlie Chaplin (with Anderson’s Essanay Film Company), producing the first film pairing of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, and for directing the film (Mr. Flip, 1909) with the first-known instance of the pie-in-the-face gag. And in 1958, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Anderson an Honorary Oscar for his contributions to cinema.
Prior to the reception at the museum, there will be a dedication of a marker honoring Anderson by Jerry Klinger, Founder of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, held at 6:30 pm in front of First United Methodist Church, 8th and Center Street, Little Rock. All are welcome.
The celebration will continue on Thursday, March 22, in Pine Bluff at Arts & Science Center for Southeast Arkansas. For more information, visit their website.
Sponsors of Little Rock Events:
Arkansas Cinema Society
First United Methodist Church - Little Rock
Historic Arkansas Museum
Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation
Jewish Federation of Arkansas
Niles Film Museum