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June 24, 2014 > Broncho Billy rides once again in Niles!

Broncho Billy rides once again in Niles!

Submitted By Rena Kiehn

Essanay Film Manufacturing Company made silent films in Chicago and later in Niles as well. The studio shot 2,000 films between 1907 and 1918, with more than 350 of them made in the little township of Niles between 1912 and 1916. Gilbert Anderson, actor, director, and the ÒAÓ of Essanay also wore another hat, as a cowboy! As early as 1910, he was known worldwide under the moniker ÒBroncho Billy,Ó the original Ògood bad manÓ who would rob a stagecoach and then save children from a burning orphanage.

June 27-29, the historic district of Niles celebrates the very first cowboy movie star who made films here; a comedy icon still known worldwide after a century on the silver screen, a classic drama about the first World War, a two-reel silent western made recently using old movie-making techniques and much, much more. The ÒBroncho Billy Silent Film FestivalÓ will host special guests from the film community, movies of all genres, and fine music by renowned musicians.

The three-day event begins with a reception at the Edison Theater followed by the opening night feature ÒThe Big ParadeÓ starring screen legend John Gilbert and Renee Adoree, directed by film maker King Vidor.

On Saturday, museum board members will lead a free walking tour of Niles, sharing many stories about various buildings and surroundings. In the afternoon, the year 1914 will be revisited with a selection of short films marking their 100th anniversary. Films made in Niles will be featured in special shorts programs.

Charlie Chaplin will be the star attraction on Saturday night in a lesser-known, yet excellent film called ÒThe Circus.Ó It was made during a tough time in ChaplinÕs career and took several years to accomplish in-between a divorce and the burning of the big top in an accidental fire. But despite all that, Chaplin managed to make a wonderfully funny film.

Baby Peggy started making comedies at the tender age of 19 months with a canine partner named Brownie the Wonder Dog. She was a solo performer at the age of three and by 1924, was starring in features such as ÒCaptain January.Ó On Sunday, at 95 years young, Diana Serra Cary (aka Baby Peggy) will share stories of her time in the movies and as an author of several film-related books. Several of her short films will also be screened.

Featured in both the opening night and Sunday afternoon programs is a special modern Niles treat. ÒBroncho Billy and the BanditÕs SecretÓ was filmed last year with local actors including Bruce Cates playing the role of the cowboy actor/director and Christopher Goodwin from ÒBeach Blanket BabylonÓ as the sheriff. There are many recognizable film locations: A train robbery took place on the Robert Dollar steam train in Niles Canyon; a Ògun fightÓ between the sheriff and the bad guys took place in the parking lot of the Edison Theater, which doubled as a movie set, and many scenes were filmed around downtown Niles and in the canyon.

Purchase tickets early as seating is limited. Individual film segments or weekend-long passes are available through Paypal at If you have questions, please e-mail

Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival
Friday, Jun 27 Ð Sunday, Jun 29
Check schedule for times
Edison Theater
Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
37417 Niles Blvd, Fremont
(510) 494-1411
Tickets: $8 - $12 individual shows; Festival Pass $48 members, $60 non-members

Film Festival Schedule:

Friday, Jun 27:
Opening Reception
5:30 p.m. Ð 7:00 p.m.
Snacks and refreshments

8:00 p.m.
ÒThe Big ParadeÓ (1925): John Gilbert and Renee Adoree star in an intimate story set against the stark realities of war.
ÒBroncho Billy and the BanditÕs SecretÓ (2013): Christopher Goodwin, Bruce Cates and Diana Serra Cary star in our salute to the Essanay studio. Premiere of the final release version.
Tickets: Museum members $10, non-members $12

Saturday, Jun 28:
Walking Tour of Niles
11:30 a.m.
Find out what happened here one hundred years ago. Important landmarks will be discussed and stories shared. Meet at the museum and bring your camera.
Free Admission

12:30 p.m.
Films from 1914
ÒJimmy Hayes and MurielÓ Tom Mix
ÒGertie the DinosaurÓ Winsor McCay
ÒThe Hazards of HelenÓ Helen Holmes clips
ÒZudora: Mystery of the Sleeping HouseÓ James Cruze, Marguerite Snow
ÒLove, Oil and GreaseÓ Lloyd Hamilton, Bud Duncan, Ruth Roland
ÒFattyÕs Magic PantsÓ Roscoe ÒFattyÓ Arbuckle
ÒHearts and DiamondsÓ John Bunny
Tickets: Museum members $8, non-members $10

3:30 p.m.
Niles Essanay Films
ÒThe New Schoolmarm of Green RiverÓ (1913) Fred Church, Eleanor Blevins, True Boardman
ÒBroncho BillyÕs Wild RideÓ (1914) Gilbert M. Anderson, Marguerite Clayton, True Boardman
Tickets: Museum members $10, non-members $12

7:30 p.m.
Ray Hubbard Award Presentation and Film Screening
ÒThe CircusÓ (1928) Charlie Chaplin
Gilbert AndersonÕs honorary Oscar will be on hand for photo ops ($10 fee goes into restoration fund for ÒThe ChampionÓ (1915) Chaplin short)
Tickets: Museum members $10, non-members $12

Sunday, Jun 29:
Ride the train through Niles canyon for more information

1:00 p.m.
Diana Serra Cary (Baby Peggy) in person
ÒCircus ClownsÓ (1922) Baby Peggy
ÒPeg oÕ the MountedÓ (1924) Baby Peggy
ÒBroncho Billy and the BanditÕs SecretÓ (2013) Christopher Goodwin, Bruce Cates and Diana Serra Cary star in our salute to the Essanay studio.
Tickets: Museum members $8, non-members $10

4:00 p.m.
ÒThe SpielerÓ (1928) Alan Hale, Renee Adoree and Clyde Cook star in this film set in a circus.
Tickets: Museum members $8, non-members $10

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