Jewish vaudevillian Max Aaronson was so excited by the audience's reaction to him in 1903's epochal The Great Train Robbery (in which he played three roles), that he changed his name to Gilbert M. Anderson, determined to devote himself to filmmaking. He and his partner, George Kirke Spoor, founded Essanay Studios in 1907, where Anderson acted in over 300 films, often writing and directing as well. He became Hollywood's first enormously popular cowboy star as "Broncho Billy" Anderson in 148 western features. Awarded an Oscar in 1958 as a "Motion Picture Pioneer," he is honored with a star on the Walk Of Fame and a U.S. postage stamp. The early Broncho Billy shorts in this collection introduce the dark complex themes and the earliest Western "good" badmen that would anticipate the feature length masterpieces of William S. Hart that would follow.
BRONCHO BILLY AND THE SCHOOLMISTRESS (1912): Billy is shot by a romantic rival when the pretty new schoolmarm takes a liking to him.
BRONCHO BILLY'S SENTENCE (1915): Billy forces a pretty young lady to hide him from the sheriff.
HIS REGENERATION (1915): Hot-tempered Billy is shot in a barroom brawl and near death. He is rescued by a minister and his daughter who take him in and attempt to nurse him back to health.
MABEL'S BUSY DAY (1914): The little tramp, Charlie Chaplin, sneaks into the Auto Races and does his best to steal Mabel Normand's hotdog concession.
SWEEDIE LEARNS TO SWIM (1914): Young Wallace Beery had a highly successful comedy career as a female impersonator playing a gangly young girl named "Sweedie" in a series of popular shorts. In this episode, disaster ensues when "Sweedie" teaches herself to swim without the benefit of water.
TEACHING HICKVILLE TO SING (1913): When a pretty young piano teacher comes to town, the menfolk knock themselves over attempting to get close to her.