America’s first cowboy movie star, Broncho Billy Anderson AKA Max Aaronson.
In 1965, a frail old man in a wheelchair appeared in the no-budget western, The Bounty Killer. It is, for those of us who love movies—especially westerns—a deeply bittersweet moment in which the man who invented the western movie hero, takes his last bow on the silver screen.
It is Broncho Billy Anderson’s final role.
The first cowboy hero of the motion pictures was Max Aaronson, (March 21, 1880 – January 20, 1971) a middle-class Jewish kid from Little Rock, Arkansas.
Max’s father, Henry, was a dry goods salesman and his mother Esther, a mother and homemaker. The family moved to St. Louis Missouri in 1883 and here Max, a teenager, was an office clerk like his brothers Jerome, Edward, and Nathaniel. A year later, Max became a cotton-buyer, in partnership with his brother-in-law Louis Roth. But Max was restless, a dreamer—and he was stage struck.
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