HART, Mary

(1919–1978)
   Born Lynne Roberts in El Paso, Texas, Hart is probably best remembered as the first of Roy Rogers’s leading ladies in Republic films, appearing in seven Rogers pictures from 1938–1939. She began making films under her own name in 1937, appearing in a Three Mesquiteer film, among others. But when she was paired with Rogers, Republic changed her name from Lynne Roberts to Mary Hart in order to bill the films as Rogers-Hart films, based on the much more famous Broadway composers’names. In all seven Rogers films, Hart generally played traditional, submissive roles. Rarely were her characters integral to the plot. Like other female stars of B Westerns, her main function was visual—to be the central shot while Rogers was singing. Only in one film, Billy the Kid Returns (1938), did her character actually have a job—as a clerk in her father’s store. In Rough Riders’Roundup (1939), Hart’s character defies her father’s will and elopes, but in so doing, she merely changes from dependent daughter to dependent wife. Hart’s best acting, however, was not in a Roy Rogers film, and she performed the role under her real name, Lynne Roberts. In Eyes of Texas (1948), Hart broke away from the traditional roles of her previous films and played a strong-willed, independent woman—a nurse not concerned with pleasing the males in her life. Her role was integral to the plot as her character undergoes a treacherous mission and helps capture the villains of the film. Thereafter Lynn Roberts/Mary Hart appeared in several non-Westerns, making her last film in 1953.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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