A Shield at Hart
A piece of history linked to a blockbuster movie
By Dave Paul
Many visitors walk right past this shield on the wall of the William S. Hart Museum, thinking it’s just another decoration. In actuality, it is a piece of history that is linked to a recent remake of a blockbuster movie.
The shield was attributed to the original 1899 Broadway production of Ben-Hur, which starred William S. Hart in the role of Messala. The story is about a Jewish man persecuted by the Roman Empire during the time of Christ. The play was a smashing success and a massive undertaking.
They even constructed a large treadmill-like contraption in order to bring real horses and chariots into the theater. It was a production unlike any audiences had ever seen before. Hart later reprised the role in the 1907 Sidney Olcott unauthorized Ben-Hur film — one of many retellings of the famous Biblical blockbuster.