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)
J.P. McGowan Facts
|Birth Name||John Paterson McGowan|
|Occupation||Actor, Director, Screenwriter|
|Birthday||February 24, 1880|
|Date of death||March 26, 1952 (Hollywood, California, USA, age 72)|
|The River Runs Red|
|The O'Kalem Collection: 1910-1915|
|Red Raiders 1927|
|Guns for Hire|
|Somewhere in Sonora|
|Cowboy Heroes: Western Double Feature, Vol. 1: Longhorn and Stampede|