Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Winifred Westover, Bill Hart Jr., Attorney Ingle Carpenter
Wife and Son of William S. Hart

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Their whirlwind marriage was over well before their son came along exactly nine months later, but the separation of actors William S. Hart, 57, and Winifred Westover, 23, played out in the courts and in the newspapers for years.

Here, Winifred and their son, William S. Hart Jr., along with her attorney Ingle Carpenter, are outside of Judge Albert Lee Stephens' L.A. Superior courtroom where Winifred was challenging Section 6 of the settlement agreement that Bill Sr.'s attorneys drafted and Winifred signed May 12, 1922, five months after they wed. Section 6 prohibited Winifred — a motion picture actress — from working, especially in motion pictures. The two-gun man intended for her to be a full-time mom. The section reads:

SIXTH — The party of the second part [Winifred] agrees that she will not, during the life of the trust mentioned in Paragraph Second of this Agreement, engage in or perform any work or services of any kind or character for hire, and that she will not, upon any conditions, do or engage in any work as a motion picture actress or artist, or permit herself to be photographed for motion picture or advertising purposes.

Winifred's laywers were in court on this date in January 1925 to argue for the severability of the clause. They wanted Section 6 stricken, and they wanted the rest of the agreement to stand, inasmuch as it provided $103,000 in trust for Winifred and $100,000 in trust for the care of Bill Jr.

Judge Stephens ruled in Winifred's favor, saying she was free to pursue her profession, while he also upheld the rest of the agreement — including Section 7, which forbade her from using William S. Hart's name in connection with her acting career. She could be Winifred Westover Hart, the judge ruled, but not Mrs. William S. Hart.

We haven't yet found a copy of the Los Angeles Examiner article that this photograph illustrated, but according to an L.A. Times article about the hearing (with a virtually identical Times photograph), William S. Hart announced his intent to appeal the ruling, and the article indicates the ruling would be stayed while the matter was on appeal.

We don't know if the ruling was, in fact, stayed, but it probably was — considering Mr. Hart did appeal (all the way to the California Supreme Court) and Mrs. Hart did not resume her acting career until 1929 — two years after the couple divorced, at which time the whole matter became moot.

L.A. Examiner/International Newsreel cutline (below) reads:

Watch Your Credit International Newsreel Photo.
2682 Los Angeles Bureau. 4683

Bill Hart Ignores Wife.

The second scene in the Winifred Westover Hart vs William S. Hart domestic drama opened in Judge Albert Lee Stephens' court, Los Angeles. Mrs. Hart, leading lady for the "wild westerner" before her marriage to him, is attempting to regain legal right to return to the screen. When she and Hart separated in May 1922, it was agreed that she should never again appear professionally. Now the blonde acress desires to return to her "art." In fact she alleges the income from the fund created for her benefit by Hart is not sufficient for her needs. One fund, $103,000, was arranged for her and another $100,000 is held in trust for William Hart Jr. Photo shows Mrs. Winifred Westover Hart, Bill Hart Jr. and Attorney Ingle Carpenter. This is the first photo of Baby Hart ever taken. See Los Angeles Examiner Jan. 14 for story.

Read the separation agreement and the rest of the story here.

Hart Baby Star in Court.

Sleeping Child Cynosure of Spectators as Lawyers Argue; Court Takes Case Under Advisement.

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A baby who did not recognize his father and who slept through hours of a dull day in court got most of the attention yesterday when the attorneys of William S. Hart and his wife, Winifred, wrangled over the legal aspects of a trust agreement between the two, one provision of which prevents Mrs. Hart from returning to the screen during the life of the trust.

At the end of the day, Judge Stephens took under consideration the arguments about the validity of the paragraph to which Mrs. Hart objects. He indicated a decision will be ready by 2 p.m. tomorrow.

If the paragraph is declared valid, Judge Stephens will then rule whether he will receive evidence relative to its separability from the rest of the agreement and to the intentions of the two parties.

Baby is Star.

The baby who attracted so much attention was William S. Hart. Jr. Alternately sleeping und playing in his mother's lap, he paid no at- [typesetting error] sat at the other side of the room with eyes, for the most part, averted from his wife and child. No word passed between Hart and his wife. Mrs. Hart sat with her mother.

Disappointed in their hopes of hearing testimony by Hart or his wife, the crowd centered its attention on the baby.

No testimony was taken by either side. The greater part of the day was used up by Hart's attorney in the contention that the paragraph was valid. Hart's counsel holds that the clauses of the trust agreement by which $203,000 was set aside for Mrs. Hurt and her then expected child, are inseparable.

Mrs. Hart objects to paragraph six of the agreement in which she is restrained from returning to motion pictures, or allowing herself to be photographed for publicity purposes, or from using the Hart name in connection with an entertainment project during the life of the trust.

Her attorneys, Charles Fourl and Ingle Carpenter, contend that this one paragraph should be stricken out because they say it is in restraint of trade. The paragraph is separable from the rest of the agreement, they say.

Hart's attorney declared that in this State a married woman has no right to engage in business without the consent of her husband unless he is not supporting her and she gets a court order admitting this. In addition to this, he said, it is not customary for a party to enter a court of equity, asking that a part of a contract be declared void while the advantages of the contract are being held.

Counsel argued about Hart's intentions in putting in the paragraph restraining his wife from returning to motion pictures. Hart's attorney declared it was inserted because Hart wished his wife to give her whole attention to the care of the then expected child.

"That is not so," Attorney Fourl slated, "because a provision is made that Mrs. Hart is to receive all the money and is to do anything she likes if either she or Hart obtain a divorce."

It was stated by Hart's counsel that the actor intends to leave for New York as soon as possible. Hart declared he expects to be gone about two months.

The actor, when asked how the court proceedings affected him, declared: "My boy there is all I am thinking of; that he should be here, even though he does not understand what is going on. Do you realize it, he doesn't even recognize me?"

Click to enlarge.

Mrs. Hart Wins Right to Screen.

Court Rules Paragraph Six is Severable Clause.

Mrs. Winifred Westover Hart, wife of William A. Hart [sic], may work in pictures.

The clause in her settlement contact with her husband, under which she agreed not to appear in motion pictures, was held to be an illegal agreement in restraint of trade, and a severable part of the much-argued document, in a decision handed down yesterday by Judge Stephens, who spent most of last week listening to testimony and argument in Mrs. Hart's action for relief.

Because the famous paragraph six of the contract, which contains the prohibition against her working in pictures, was held to be a severable part of the agreement, Mrs. Hart can still receive the benefits of the $100,000 trust fund which was set up for her as another part of the arrangement whereby the two divided their lives.

May Use Own Name.

However, she may not be billed or otherwise advertised as "Mrs. W.S. Hart" or as the wife of William S. Hart. She may use her own name of Winifred Westover Hart as she wishes.

Nor Is the validity of the contract affected by the clause providing that in event of a divorce the principal of the $100,000 trust fund shall be paid over to her. It had been argued that this was against public policy, but Judge Stephens ruled otherwise.

Mrs. Hart broke into tears as the import of the decision became manifest from the reading from the bench.

"I am so glad — so glad," she said "Now I can go to work and earn enough money to maintain the kind of home for my boy that he is entitled to in proportion to the wealth and standing of his father. That is all I have been fighting for. It has been such a long, hard fight, but worth it."

Mrs. Hart, it is said, will re-enter pictures as soon as matters can be arranged. According to Mr. Carpenter, immediately prior to the filing of the recent suit she had several attractive offers to play in pictures but was advised by her attorney that she could not accept them until the contract with her husband had been ruled upon by the courts. At present, Mr. Carpenter said, Mrs. Hart has no definite plans for her return to picture work.

Hart Not in Court.

Hart was not in court when the decision was rendered. Judge Stephens' ruling followed arguments by Attorneys Ingle, Carpenter and Charles W. Fourl for Mrs. Hart and James G. Scarborough for Hart.

The much-mooted agreement provided that two trust funds should be set up, one of $100,000 for Mrs. Hart and the other of $103,000 for the benefit of William S. Hart Jr., the son of the pair, who was unborn at the execution of the contract. Paragraph six provided that Mrs. Hart should not work in pictures or permit herself to be photographed for advertising purposes, under pain of losing the income from the trust fund. It was further provided that in case either should obtain a divorce, the wife should receive the principal of the trust fund.

Mrs. Hart's action for relief from the inhibitions of paragraph six brought out one of the most unusual proceedings ever heard by the Superior Court here. She claimed exemption from one of the obligations of the agreement, and at the same time asked continuance of its benefits. The situation hinged upon intricate points of law and logic, and was extensively argued.

Hart Sees Victory.

Hart took the attitude yesterday that the decision is a decisive victory for him, but that he would appeal to make it complete.

"When Mrs. Hart testified I did not strike her or use physical violence against her, and when Judge Stephens ruled that he found no evidence of collusion in the trust agreement, a twenty-ton weight was taken from my shoulders," the actor declared.

"I consider the decision a victory for me because Mrs. Hart is not allowed to use my name, even if she does return to work," he continued. "As a matter of fact, I will appeal immediately and my wife will find herself in exactly the same position as she was before the action was begun. My lawyer has told me the judgment will be suspended as soon as I file an appeal, and that it may be two years before the State Supreme Court can get to this case. In the meantime, Mrs. Hart will not be able to work. Moreover, I think her chief film value would be derived from the use of my name.

"As long as I rested under a cloud due to reports spread over the country that I had struck and abused my wife, and tried to force her to get a divorce, I would say nothing that might be derogatory toward the mother of my boy," Hart stated.

"But in this case, a purely legal matter, I'll talk my head off if you want me to," he said.

May Appeal Further.

Hart signified his intention of carrying the mailer to the United States Supreme Court if the decision goes against him in the higher State courts.

"I feel that I have been exonerated of all the awful charges made against me, which is a lot, but I want my victory to be complete," he said.

If reservations can be secured, he will leave Wednesday for a long-deferred pleasure trip to New York, Hart declared.

Click image to enlarge | Download archival scan

LW3557: 9600 dpi jpeg from original photograph purchased 2019 by Leon Worden.
• Stage Career
• Hart Films
• Publicity Photos
• Hart as Author
• WWI War Bonds
• Hart Mansion
• Hart in Retirement
• Personal Life
• Hart in Artwork
• Bill Hart Jr. Collection

of William S. Hart


Hart's Siblings


1880 Census (Hart)


Westover: Vital Stats


Westover ~1919 Hoover Art Co.


Westover in "Marked Men" 1919


Westover 1921


Westover in "Anne of Little Smoky" 1921


Mr. & Mrs. Hart


Lantern Slide


Wedding Effects & Baby Clothes


Bill Jr. Photos ~1940s


Separation 1922


Bill Jr.'s Birth Cert. 1922


Westover's Father Accuses 1923


MacCaulley Paternity Swindle Part 1: 1923

• Fannye Bostic Pays a Visit 1923


Hart v. Hart 1924/25


Westover by Spurr >1921


Westover in Court 1/1925


Westover ~1925


Mother & Son x2 ~1925


Mother & Son 1927

Statement in 'My Life' 1929


Letter Re: Son's Portrayal in 'My Life' 1929


Winifred Westover in "Lummox" 1930 (Mult.)


"Tumbleweeds" Lawsuit 1936-1939


Paternity Suit 1939


Complaint Against Dog Shooter 1940


Fate of Richard & Ina Ito, 1942 ff.


Sister's Death 1943


Sister's Probate 1944

Last Will & Testament of William S. Hart 1944


Westover Challenges Will 1950

Death Notice (AP): William S. Hart Jr. 1922-2004

Obituary (LAT): William S. Hart Jr. 1922-2004

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