April 16, 1919 — Actor William S. Hart stages a mock holdup of the Liberty Loan train in San Fernando, Calif., as a publicity stunt to promote
the 5th Liberty Loan bond series. Apparently a tank drives up to save the day — and sell Bill a bond.
An unknown person's handwriting on the back of this 8x10 glossy publicity photograph reads: "San Fernando, Cal., April 16, 1919 / Taken during the holding up
of the 5th Liberty Loan train by Wm. S. Hart and Co. / The Whippet tank selling Bill a liberty bond."
The fifth and final bond series of World War 1 was issued April 21, 1919, five days after this photo was shot — and five months after the war ended.
Thus the 5th series was known as the Victory Liberty Loan. The issue consisted of $4.5 billion in tax-exempt bonds earning 4.75 percent interest,
with principal and interest payable in gold.
Unlike the earlier 4th series, which would eventually go into technical default because the government didn't call the bonds
until 1934 — after Congress
had devalued the dollar and
outlawed the private ownership of gold — the 5th series matured after just 4 years and could be redeemed by the government after three years. (Series 1-3 also
matured in the 1920s and averted the problem.)
BILL HART AND THE WARS
By Bill Crowl, President, Friends of William S. Hart Park & Museum (1999)
William S. Hart was born at the end of
the American Civil War. His childhood
mentors were still afire with patriotism
and the need to rebuild a nation once
divided. Bill's early teens were lived on
the American frontier where western
freedom abounded. Throughout his life,
he was visibly proud to be an American.
Bill was in his early 50s when the
United States entered the (First) World
War. Though physically fit, he was too
old to be accepted into the military. But,
as the leading Western movie star of the
period, Bill found other ways to support
his nation. He raised money for the
Liberty Loan drives and for the Red
Cross records show that Hart's tours
for the third Liberty Loan drive were
responsible for over $2 million in
contributions. A little earlier, in 1917,
Bill co-starred with Douglas Fairbanks
and Mary Pickford in a one-half reel
Liberty bond sales promotional film.
Hart fired the first gun in the Second
For the fourth Liberty Loan drive,
Bill wrote, directed and starred in a
another sales promotion film. While
asleep, by his pinto pony, Bill dreamed of
a visit to Berlin, where he busted through
a window into the Royal Palace. There,
he shot it out with the Kaiser and his
Huns, in Western saloon-hall fashion.
After comparing the German leader to a
rattlesnake, but letting him live, Bill rode
off, hell-bent for leather, to buy Liberty bonds. Hart really did purchase a
substantial amount of bonds.
Bill also enlisted his pinto pony
"Fritz" in the post-war effort. They
paraded the streets of Los Angeles to
secure funds for the American Red Star
Animal Relief which provided hospitals
and veterinaries for the thousands of
horses, mules and dogs that were
wounded while fighting with the
American troops on the western
The 159th California Infantry
showed their appreciation of Bill Hart by
choosing the western film star as their
godfather. They took on the name of
"Bill Hart Two-gun Men." Practically
every other unit, among the 30,000
troops at Camp Kearny (near San Diego),
vied for this sobriquet, but the 159th
Within seven months of Hart's donation
of the American Theater to American
Legion Post 507, our nation entered the
Second World War. Bill was much older
now, retired and living in Newhall.
However his patriotism still burned
brightly, and he was still respected as an
early Western movie star. To this end,
Bill donated many of his personal
artifacts, including boots and Stetsons,
to be auctioned at war bond sales rallies.