Pine Bluff Downtown Development
Two for the Movies
“Broncho Billy” Anderson (also known as Max Aaronson) and Freeman Owens, both originally from Pine Bluff, were boyhood friends who left a lasting impression on cinema. Max Aaronson took on the stage name Gilbert Anderson and formed Essanay Studios in Chicago with George K. Spoor after appearing in The Great Train Robbery. Anderson made 375 westerns between 1908 and 1915, with the “Broncho Billy” series being the most famous. After his retirement, Anderson was presented with an Oscar for his contribution to the films. Freeman Owens was very interested in movie photography and worked with Anderson in Chicago. Owens held many patents for photogenic equipment, but his most famous invention, a technique to perfect sound on film, was denied him by the U.S. Supreme Court when Lee DeForest, his former employer, sued him for the rights. Other faces on the mural include Wallace Beery, Charlie Chaplin and Peggy Shannon.