Local cowboy hero William S. Hart is one of four Western legends to be immortalized on a new series of 44-cent postage stamps and his hometown is taking notice.
Ceremonies are scheduled at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 17, when officials of the U.S. Postal Service will release the series entitled "Cowboys of the Silver Screen" that feature Hart, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Tom Mix. All four actors filmed their Westerns on and around the streets of Newhall and all have been honored with bronze saddles on Old Newhall's Walk of Western Stars.
The unveiling and a variety of family activities will take place at Hart Park throughout the day, hosted by Friends of Hart Park in concert with the City of Santa Clarita, the Natural History Museum of L.A. County and the L.A. County Parks and Recreation.
Cowboys of the Silver Screen stamps and cancellations will be available immediately after the ceremony. Early sales of the stamp sets will be available beginning at 9 a.m.
Bill Hart was one of the most popular leading men of the silent film era, unique for his powerful presence and serious approach to early Westerns. He frequently played a tough-as-nails cowboy, with a soft spot for his favorite horse, a brown and white Pinto named Fritz.
"This is a very exciting event for our community and for the historic legacy Bill Hart left in the Santa Clarita Valley," said Mayor Laurene Weste. "Celebrating our community's long history of film by commemorating four of our greatest stars on postage stamps is truly a momentous occasion."
Activities at Hart Park throughout the day include free tours of Hart's 22-room mansion from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; tours of the animal barnyard at 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. and children's crafts and activities in the Hart Ranch House from 1 to 4 p.m.
In addition, guests will be able to enjoy a multi-media music presentation of the Silver Screen Cowboy Project in Hart Hall at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Admission is $1 for adults, $.25 for children.
The likeness of Hart for the stamp series, created by freelance illustrator Robert Rodriguez, is based on the poster for Hart's landmark 1925 film "Tumbleweeds." His work has been featured on more than a dozen previously-issued stamps.
Rodriguez will be signing autographs from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at a special ceremony April 24 on the Melody Ranch Stage during the city's Cowboy Festival, where the stamps will be on sale, along with a book of stamped postal cards. A special festival postmark will also be available on that day.