Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bert Lindley Defended by Paul Andrew Hutton

January 26, 2012

Taped a table read for our proposed TV show "True Arizona" late this morning. Marshall Trimble, Jana Bommersbach and I marched through a ton of material to fill a full 56 minutes of screen time. Going to eventually take the show on the road.

The True West website has been buzzing with comments about Bert Lindley, the first actor to allegedly portray Wyatt Earp in a movie. Here's a still of him from Paul Hutton's collection:

This led to the following posting:

Here's a puzzle concerning the supposed stills of Bert Lindley portraying Wyatt Earp for Bill Hart's 1923 film "Wild Bill Hickok." I checked and, both of which list the full cast and crew of Hart's film, and guess what --- although the cast of characters includes Hickok (played by Hart), Calamity Jane, and Bat Masterson, there is NO Wyatt Earp, nor is Bert Lindley listed among the actors! Now says that Abraham Lincoln also makes an appearance in the movie, and he is not shown among the characters either, so possibly Earp (Lindley) appears momentarily, but did not warrant a listing in the cast.

What did P.A. Hutton say about where he obtained the photos of Lindley(provenance)?

—Murray A. Gewirtz

I emailed Paul Hutton and asked him if he could cast any light on these questions, and, without further ado, here is the Distinguished Professor:

BBB: Well, you know just how much I appreciate internet research! And especially the notoriously error-ridden (check my two listings--they list me as two people--and both are wrong.) Wild Bill Hickok is a lost film, although a partial print surfaced a decade ago. I have been collecting materials on it for over twenty years because of my interest in the historical characters in the film (it started with trying to get a still of the Custer charcter, then Sheridan, then Earp). My stills are original studio photographs released at the time of the film with (in the Lindley case) the ORIGINAL STUDIO SNIPE pasted on the back (incredibly rare) identifying Lindley as Earp (I have three stills with the Lindley character in it--two portraits and the group shot). I also own a copy of the original pressbook for the film--with full cast listed. I also own a rare little pamphlett entitled "William S. Hart in Wild Bill Hickok" by William S. Hart (Los Angeles: Will A. Kistler Co., Printers, 1923) which is a prose version of the screenplay. It not only has Earp as a character but also lists Doc Holliday, Luke Short, Bill Tilghman, and Charlie Bassett as the other men along with Hickok, Masterson and Earp in the scene where they meet the hide men from the East (I sent you that still). Thus this must also be the first appearance of Doc Holliday in a film (although we dont know the actor). I also have several stills of the Lincoln character in the film (one with him alongside Sheridan) and several of the Custer character. Also the Masterson character. The Masterson character was featured far more prominently than the Earp character, which is interesting considering the Earp-Hart relationship. Of course Masterson, who was friends with both men, had just died in October 1921. Is that bright enough light for ya? Any more questions? PH

"There are lies, damn lies and then there is internet research."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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