Myrtle Gonzalez (September 28, 1891 – October 22, 1918) was a celebrated American actress who graced the silent era of motion pictures with her talent. With a career spanning from 1913 to 1918, she appeared in at least 78 silent films, including 66 one and two-reel shorts. Myrtle Gonzalez is remembered as a true movie star.
Early Life[edit | edit source]
Born in Los Angeles, California, on September 28, 1891, Myrtle Gonzalez was the daughter of Manuel George Gonzalez (1868–1919) and Lillian L. Cook (1874–1932). Her family history was rich, with her father's roots tracing back to a Hispanic Californio family of Mexico, long before the United States took control of the region. Her mother, of Irish immigrant heritage, was a former opera and popular singer. Her father worked as a retail grocer.
From a young age, Myrtle displayed remarkable dramatic talent and had a beautiful soprano voice. She participated in local concerts, benefits, and church choirs. Her early acting career included juvenile roles on stage alongside renowned actresses like Fanny Davenport and Florence Stone.
Myrtle Gonzalez married James Parks Jones around 1910, and they had a son together named James Parks Jones Jr. (c. 1911–1970) before their divorce.
Movie Career[edit | edit source]
Myrtle Gonzalez's upbringing in Los Angeles proved advantageous as the city became a hub for movie production. She worked with studios such as Vitagraph and Universal, where she collaborated with William Desmond Taylor in five films. Notable works include:
- Her Husband's Friend (1913)
- Tainted Money (1914)
- Millions for Defence (1914)
- The Kiss (1914)
- Captain Alvarez (1914)
In many of her roles, Gonzalez portrayed robust and outdoorsy heroines. Towards the end of her career, she often starred in movies set in snowy landscapes and forests.
Personal Life and Tragic End[edit | edit source]
On December 1, 1917, Myrtle Gonzalez married actor and director Allen Watt (1885–1944). She decided to retire from the screen at this point. Their union came during World War I, with Captain Watt serving in the U.S. Army, stationed at Camp Lewis near Tacoma, Washington.
Due to Gonzalez's frail health, Captain Watt was placed on the retirement list, allowing him to take her back to Southern California. He returned to work at Universal and began his career as a director.
Tragically, Myrtle Gonzalez, at the age of 27, fell victim to the worldwide Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. She passed away at her parents' home in Los Angeles, located at 908 West Thirtieth Street.
Legacy[edit | edit source]
On November 23, 2022, Google honored Myrtle Gonzalez with a Google Doodle in the United States. This date marked the anniversary of the release of the short film The Level (1914), in which she starred.
Selected Filmography[edit | edit source]
- Chalice of Courage (1915)
- A Natural Man (1915)
- The Girl of Lost Lake (1916)
- It Happened in Honolulu (1916)
- The Secret of the Swamp (1916)
- The Greater Law (1917)
- Mutiny (1917)
- God's Crucible (1917)
- Southern Justice (1917)
- The Show Down (1917)
Bibliography[edit | edit source]
- Doyle, Billy H. (1995). The Ultimate Directory of Silent Screen Performers. Metuchen, New Jersey, Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-2958-4.