Willam Surrey Hart was a successful Shakespearian actor on Broadway who had worked with Margaret Mather and other stars, William S. Hart went on to become one of the first great stars of the motion picture western. Hart appeared in original 1899 stage production of Ben Hur.
He entered films in 1914 where, after playing supporting roles in two short films, he achieved stardom as the lead in the feature, The Bargain.
Hart was particularly interested in making realistic western films. His films are noted for their authentic costumes and props, as well as Hart's extraordinary acting ability, honed on Shakespearian theatre stages in the US and England.
In 1917, he accepted a lucrative offer from Adolph Zukor to join Famous Players-
Hart was fascinated by the Old West. He acquired Billy the Kid's “six shooters”, and was a friend of legendary lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, William S. Hart has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6363 Hollywood Blvd. In 1975, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
As part of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, California, Hart's former home and 260 acre (1.1 km²) ranch in Newhall is now "William S. Hart Park". The William S. Hart Union High School District as well as William S. Hart Senior High School, both located in the Santa Clarita Valley in the northern part of Los Angeles County, were named in his honor.