Leslie Howard On Horseback (1933)
I have found an amusing article about Leslie’s exploits as a cowboy during the takings of Secrets. Maybe in 1933 his love for horses was not yet of common knowledge as it was later, when he became a well-known polo player and the owner of horses and stables. Leslie’s fans know that there is a huge literature about his fondness for horses, and have seen the many photos of him with his favourite polo ponies. This is one of the first articles referring to Leslie Howard as an expert horseman.
Leslie Howard On Horseback
Having realized a life-long, if secret, ambition in the production of “Secrets,” the Mary Pickford starring vehicle which opens at the Rivoli next Wednesday, Leslie Howard, stage and screen star, is still talking about the fun he had in making that film.
A goodly portion of “Secrets” could easily be classed as “Western,” so-called, and it was in these sequences that Howard, who started his career upon the London stage, had the most fun. And, as a result, it was revealed for the first time in Hollywood that one of his major accomplishments is his expert horsemanship.
Of course, only Leslie Howard’s intimates were aware that he had been a cavalryman in the British Army during the World War and that he had served nearly two years at it. They weren’t aware that he was accustomed to dangerous feats of horsemanship and that, despite a perceptible rustiness, he is really as much at home in a saddle as he is upon his feet.
What would be more natural than that since his arrival in Hollywood he has hankered to play in a “Western” picture? But he never got the opportunity until Miss Pickford chose him for her leading man in “Secrets.”
Even then most people working on the picture were unaware of Howard’s knowledge of riding. But they learned of it very forcibly one day while the company was at work on the desert near Palm Springs, Cal.
Cowboys hired for the task had driven 120 steers and Texas long-horns from Los Angeles to the desert, where they were turned over to Leslie Howard and the motion picture cowboys for manoeuvring in front of the camera. At Director Frank Borzage’s command, the head electrician shouted “hit ‘em,” which meant, of course, turn on the lights.
But the boys “hit ‘em” a trifle too quickly, or something, for the first thing anybody knew the 120 steers and longhorns were in a man’s-sized stampede. Cameramen and behind-the-lines crews scurried for shelter. Yells filled the air and the real cowboys dashed into action.
Frightened onlookers, who expected to see Howard unhorsed and injured in the mad swirl, were startled to discover him riding easily and even taking an active hand in the round-up. And then the cavalry experience came to light.
It required two hours to round up the stampeders, and Howard was in the middle of it all the time.
(Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 12, 1933)