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William Garwood
Born William Davis Garwood, Jr.
April 28, 1884(1884-04-28)
Springfield, Missouri, U.S.
Died December 28, 1950 (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor, director
Years active 1909–1919

William Garwood (April 28, 1884 – December 28, 1950) was an American stage and film actor and director of the early silent era in the 1910s.

Between 1911 and 1913, Garwood starred in a number of early adaptions of popular films including Jane Eyre and The Vicar of Wakefield (1910), Lorna Doone, The Pied Piper of Hamelin and David Copperfield (1911), The Merchant of Venice (1912), and Little Dorrit and Robin Hood (1913). In total, he appeared starred in more than 150 films.


Early life

Garwood was born in Springfield, Missouri, and at the age of 15 moved to New Mexico for several years. His advanced education was at Springfield's Drury College, where he was awarded prizes for his abilities in dramatic reading and literature. Garwood could have pursued a career as a top athlete and ran the 100-yard (91 m) dash in 10.20 seconds, also playing on the college football team. His father hoped that he would follow a career in metallurgy and secured a position for his son with a zinc company in Joplin, Missouri. However, young Garwood had other plans, and aspired to be an actor on stage.

Early work

Among his early work was employment in 1903 for $3.50 per week with the Lakeside Theatre at Elitch's Gardens in Denver, where for two years he did odd jobs in addition to taking minor stage roles with the stock company, which at the time included such players as Maude Fealy, Bruce McRae, Douglas Fairbanks and Edward Mackey. After living in Denver for two seasons he moved to New York City in 1905, where he worked with Virginia Harned, after which he joined the Frohman management in the original production of Mizpah. Later, he was with Kyrle Bellew in Brigadier Girard and with S. Miller Kent in Raffles. Between productions he worked with a number of stock companies, including those at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco and the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. Among his appearances on stage Garwood considered his work with Dustin Farnum in the traveling company of Cameo Kirby to be one of his early career highlights in stage acting. This was his last appearance on stage prior to his debut in films.


In November 1909, Garwood joined Thanhouser and was seen in his first Thanhouser film by 1910. He departed from Thanhouser in the autumn of 1911, by which time he was one of the studio's most popular actors. He returned in June 1912 after a season on the stage with the Stubbs-Mackay stock company playing roles in The Prisoner of Zenda, Mills of the Gods, and other plays at the Southern Theatre in Columbus, Ohio during his hiatus from the screen.

On April 30, 1913, the Thanhouser company relocated from Los Angeles to New York, but Garwood remained behind in the same studio in Los Angeles, which was now acquired by Majestic, and became, with Francelia Billington and Fred Mace, one of three featured stars in the "New Majestic" films. In an interview in Photoplay magazine in February 1913, he said that he was in love with love, life, and laughter, was fond of cars and blonde girls. His involvement with fast cars was particularly well known, and he reportedly drove the streets of New Rochelle at high speeds.

In the early summer of 1913, when he was acting in the Majestic film The Toy, William Garwood began a life-long love of farming and cultivation, particularly of onions, and began cultivating on a commercial basis on an onion patch on the farm of actor Irving Cummings in his spare time from film. Very much the farmer, in 1914 he purchased a six-room bungalow in Whittier, California and oversaw 3 acres (12,000 m2) of irrigated crops.

An article in Reel Life on July 11, 1914 told of the enlargement of his real estate holdings: "William Garwood, of the American, believes in expansion. He has a big ranch near Los Angeles and several seaside lots. Now he is purchasing farm lands in the vicinity of Santa Barbara. Mr. Garwood is no mere real estate barterer. He cultivates his property intensively and makes it pay. He says that he has no intention of buying an automobile out of his salary at the studios, but he plans to get one of the finest cars on the market from the income of his land investments."

Still, on March 21, 1914, Garwood moved from Majestic to American Studios, in which he starred with Vivian Rich under the direction of Sidney Ayres, in his first film at the American studio.

After being with American, based in Santa Barbara, for eight months, he went to Universal Studios under a two-year contract in late May 1914, where he came under the direction of Lucius J. Henderson. Garwood's first Universal release was On Dangerous Ground.

In 1915, Garwood worked exclusively with a popular actress of the time, Violet Mersereau, whom he starred in a number of films with and directed. They worked together in many films of that year, including You Can't Always Tell, Destiny's Trump Card, Uncle's New Blazer, The Adventure of the Yellow Curl Papers, Wild Blood and The Supreme Impulse.

Garwood remained with Universal, where by 1916 he had moved in directing and was one of several dozen directors at Universal City, California. In December 1916 he worked with Thomas H. Ince and went to Kay-Bee, which released through the Triangle program. In 1917 Garwood starred in the films A Magdalene of the Hills (Rolfe for Metro) and The Little Brother (Kay-Bee for Triangle).

For the next two years he was involved in many films both in acting and directorship, including acting for Ince and the Authors' Film Company. He appeared in the 1919 film Wives and Other Wives (American for Pathé) and both directed and acted in the 1919 Universal picture, A Proxy Husband, which was to be his last.

Physical appearance

Garwood was 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) in height and 165 pounds weight, in excellent athletic condition. He kept his physique in top shape by swimming and football playing, and continued his running which he had developed in his teen years in his spare time when not engaged in the studio work or cultivating onions in his garden. He always appeared on film as a gentleman with well-groomed dark hair and dark brown eyes. Genial, companionable, Garwood was a distinguished actor, and a successful businessman.

Personal life

Garwood was determined to remain a bachelor for the entirety of his life and when answering reporters' inquiries about the possibility of his becoming married he always replied strongly with "Never!" He lived with a Japanese servant, who attended to his personal needs and did most of the cooking.

Garwood remained interested in geology, a legacy which remained through his life created by his father from a young age and he spent many weekends in the pursuit of mineral specimens. By 1920 Garwood's parents had moved to the Los Angeles area and he visited them consistently on a Sunday when he was not pursuing his favorite sport of motor racing.

Later years and death

Between 1920 and 1950 Garwood retired from acting and directorship free to pursue his interests and his love of cultivation and business.

Garwood died from a coronary occlusion and cirrhosis of the liver in Los Angeles on December 28, 1950.

Selected filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1909 The Cowboy Millionaire Alternative titles: Fell Heir to a Million Dollars
The Millionaire Cowboy
1911 The Pasha's Daughter
Baseball and Bloomers
For Her Sake Confederate Soldier, Lover
Cally's Comet Jack
The Railroad Builder
The Colonel and the King
Flames and Fortune The Rescuer
The Coffin Ship
Courting Across the Court The Lover
Won by Wireless Wireless Operator
That's Happiness The Wealthy Old Woman's Son
The Smuggler The Smuggler
The Buddhist Priestess The Naval Officer
The Higher Law The Minister
The Lady from the Sea
1912 A New Cure for Divorce The Groom
Conductor 786 The Conductor's Son
At the Foot of the Ladder The Society Leader
Please Help the Pore The Poor Father
A Six Cylinder Elopement John Henderson, Gray's Daughter's Sweetheart
Put Yourself in His Place Henry Little
The Little Girl Next Door The Husband
Petticoat Camp
Frankfurters and Quail
The Thunderbolt The Poor Couple's Son, as an Adult
Standing Room Only The Cook's Sweetheart
Aurora Floyd
With the Mounted Police The Mounted Policeman
1913 The Oath of Tsuru San
The Heart of a Fool
The Evidence of the Film The Broker
Some Fools There Were
Her Gallant Knights
For Her Boy's Sake
The Caged Bird
The Oath of Pierre
Beautiful Bismark
The Lady Killer
The Shoemaker and the Doll
A Mix-Up in Pedigrees
Through the Sluice Gates
Article 47, L'
The House in the Tree
Rick's Redemption Lord John
1914 The Ten of Spades
A Ticket to Red Horse Gulch
A Turn of the Cards
Fate's Decree
The Green-Eyed Devil
The Hunchback A Young Prospector
Imar the Servitor Imar
The Body in the Trunk
The Lost Sermon
The Unmasking
Nature's Touch
The Cameo of the Yellowstone
Feast and Famine
A Man's Way
Does It End Right?
Their Worldly Goods
Break, Break, Break
The Cocoon and the Butterfly
His Faith in Humanity
The Taming of Sunnybrook Nell
Billy's Rival
Jail Birds
In the Open
Sweet and Low
Sir Galahad of Twilight
Redbird Wins
Old Enough to Be Her Grandpa
In the Candlelight
The Strength o' Ten
The Sower Reaps Lord John
1915 The Legend Beautiful
On Dangerous Ground
The Stake
She Never Knew
The Supreme Impulse
Wild Blood Director
The Adventure of the Yellow Curl Papers
Uncle's New Blazer Director
Destiny's Trump Card Director
You Can't Always Tell Director
Larry O'Neill Gentleman
Thou Shalt Not Lie
Driven by Fate
Billy's Love Making Director
The Wolf of Debt Bruce Marsden
The Unnecessary Sex
Getting His Goat
Lord John's Journal Lord John
Lord John in New York Lord John
1916 The Grey Sisterhood
Three Fingered Jenny
The League of the Future
Billy's War Brides Director
His Picture Director
Broken Fetters Lawrence Demarest
Two Seats at the Opera Michael Claney Director
The Gentle Art of Burglary
A Society Sherlock Director
He Wrote a Book Director
Arthur's Desperate Resolve Director
A Soul at Stake Director
The Decoy Director
1917 A Magdalene of the Hills Eric Southward
The Little Brother Franak Girard
1918 The Guilty Man Claude Lescuyer
Her Moment Jan Drakachu
Wives and Other Wives Norman Craig
1919 Proxy Husband Director

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