J. P. McGowan

Actor, Film director

1880 – 1952

 Credit ยป

Who was J. P. McGowan?

John Paterson McGowan was a pioneering Hollywood actor and director and occasionally a screenwriter and producer. 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 the then-bustling railway centre of Terowie in South Australia, McGowan grew up in Adelaide and Sydney. He was a capable horseman and served in the Second Boer War with Montmorency's Scouts as a special dispatch rider.

From South Africa McGowan was recruited to take part in a Boer War exhibit in the US 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 American film shot on location outside of the United States. His horseback riding ability enabled him to do many of Kalem's riding stunts.

McGowan directed and often acted in the first 33 episodes of Kalem's 1914 adventure film series, The Hazards of Helen, which eventually ran to 54 episodes, some still with McGowan's participation. 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 production company, Signal Films, which successfully made a series of railroad melodramas but lost out when their distributor failed. The collaboration ended when they divorced in 1925. There was an adopted daughter, Kaye.

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Feb 24, 1880
Also known as
  • Jack
  • John Paterson McGowan
  • Mac
  • Mac MacGowan
  • Jack MacGowan
  • McGowan
  • J.P. MacGowan
  • Jack McGowan
  • John P. McGowan
  • John McGowan
  • Australia
Lived in
  • South Australia
Mar 26, 1952
Resting place
Forest Lawn Memorial Park

on July 23, 2013


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