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J.P. McGowan

J.P. McGowan

John Paterson McGowan was a pioneering Hollywood actor, screenwriter, film director and stuntman. J.P. McGowan, as he was usually known, remains the only Australian to have been made a life member of the Screen Directors Guild.

Born in Terowie, South Australia, McGowan grew up in Adelaide and Sydney. He was a capable horserider and served in the Second Boer War as a special dispatch rider.

McGowan travelled to the U.S. to take part in a Boer War exhibit at the 1904 World's Fair. He then began working in live theatre and in 1910 joined Kalem Studios in New York City. That year McGowan made his first film appearance in A Lad from Old Ireland as part of the crew that traveled to Ireland to do the first ever film shot on location outside of the United States. During his acting career, his horseback riding ability saw him do many of Kalem's riding stunts.

McGowan directed the first twenty-six episodes of Kalem's 1914 adventure film series, The Hazards of Helen. While filming he began a relationship with Helen Holmes, the film's star, and the two married. They left Kalem to set up their own successful production company but their collaboration ended when they divorced in 1925.

J.P. McGowan successfully made the transition from silent film to talkies. While never a major star, in a busy career that spanned four decades, he acted in more than 180 films, wrote 26 screenplays, and directed more than 165 productions. In 1932 he directed a young John Wayne in the 12 episode serial, The Hurricane Express.

J.P. McGowan died in 1952 in Hollywood and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. His life story was told in the 2004 book titled J.P. McGowan: Biography of a Hollywood Pioneer by John J. McGowan (ISBN 0786419946)


Note: This profile was written in or before 2006.

J.P. McGowan Facts

Birth NameJohn Paterson McGowan
OccupationActor, Director, Screenwriter
BirthdayFebruary 24, 1880
SignPisces
BirthplaceTerowie, Australia
Date of deathMarch 26, 1952 (Hollywood, California, USA, age 72)

Selected Filmography

Fighting
Jawbreaker
The River Runs Red
Stampede
The O'Kalem Collection: 1910-1915
Red Raiders 1927
Guns for Hire
Somewhere in Sonora
Stampede 1936
Cowboy Heroes: Western Double Feature, Vol. 1: Longhorn and Stampede
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