Who is Myrtle Gonzalez? Great American Silent Movie Star

Who is Myrtle Gonzalez

Last updated on March 19th, 2024 at 10:22 pm

Myrtle Gonzalez was a well-known actress during a time when movies did not have any talking, called silent films. She was born on September 28, 1891, in Los Angeles, California, and sadly, she passed away at the young age of 27 on October 22, 1918.

Even though her time in the film industry was short, Myrtle made a big impact. She became famous for her acting in silent movies and also worked in different types of films. Tragically, she got sick with the flu, known as the Spanish flu, and it led to her passing at the age of 27.

Although her career was brief, Myrtle Gonzalez is still remembered as one of the early stars in American cinema. In this closer look at her life, we will explore more about her personal life, successful film career, and the sad end she faced.

Early Life of Myrtle Gonzalez

Early Life of Myrtle Gonzalez
Who is Myrtle Gonzalez? Great American Silent Movie Star

Myrtle Gonzalez was born in Los Angeles, California, on September 28, 1891, to Manuel George Gonzalez and Lillian L. Cook. She had two siblings, Stella M. Gonzalez and Manuel G. Gonzalez Jr.  Her family had roots in Hispanic Californio heritage, and her mom, from Irish immigrant parents, used to be a singer. Myrtle’s dad worked as a grocer.

Even when she was little, Myrtle showed she was talented in acting and had a nice singing voice. She performed in local events and sang in choirs. As a kid, she even acted on stage with Fanny Davenport and Florence Stone.

Around 1910, Myrtle got married to James Parks Jones, and they had a son named James Parks Jones Jr. Sadly, they later got divorced. Then Myrtle Gonzalez met actor and director Allen Watt. They got married in Los Angeles in December 1917. Unfortunately, their marriage did not last long. Myrtle Gonzalez, who was only 27 years old, passed away.

Myrtle Gonzalez’s family had a mix of backgrounds, and she grew up with a love for singing and acting. Her life took turns with marriage and family, but her early talent and love for the arts shone through.

Myrtle Gonzalez’s Success in Silent Films

Myrtle Gonzalez's Success in Silent Films
Who is Myrtle Gonzalez? Great American Silent Movie Star

The era was a time when movies did not have talking or matching sound. Instead, they told stories using pictures, acting, and sometimes live music. Myrtle Gonzalez became an actress during this time, which lasted from the late 19th century to the late 1920s. 

Actors had to use their faces and body movements to show emotions and tell the story to the audience because there was no spoken dialogue.

Myrtle Gonzalez found success in silent films by playing different types of characters, but often strong and adventurous women. She worked with different studios, like Vitagraph and Universal, and starred in many important movies.

Myrtle Gonzalez made a good impression on the silent film industry. People from her time really liked her performances.

Movie Career of Myrtle Gonzalez

Movie Career of Myrtle Gonzalez
Who is Myrtle Gonzalez? Great American Silent Movie Star

Growing up in Los Angeles turned out to be a big advantage for Myrtle Gonzalez when movies started being made there. She got to work with studios like Vitagraph and Universal.

In five movies with William Desmond Taylor at Vitagraph, Myrtle played different roles. There was a funny and serious one called “Her Husband’s Friend” in 1913, then a drama called “Tainted Money” in 1914. After that, there was a comedy called “Millions for Defence,” another drama called “The Kiss,” and one more drama titled “Captain Alvarez,” all in 1914.

In most of her roles, Myrtle was like a strong and adventurous heroine, often seen outdoors. In the last six years of her career, she starred in movies that were about snowy places and forests. Myrtle Gonzalez became known for playing characters who were full of life and enjoyed nature, making her movies quite special.

Sad Passing of Myrtle Gonzalez

On December 1, 1917, Myrtle Gonzalez got married to actor/director Allen Watt in Los Angeles. After the wedding, she decided to stop acting and retired. They had met when Watt was working as an assistant director at Universal. 

Around the time of their marriage, the United States was in World War I, and Watt became an officer in the US Army at Camp Lewis, near Tacoma, Washington.

Because Myrtle’s health was not strong enough for that location’s climate, Capt. Watt retired to take her back to Southern California. He went back to work at Universal, this time as a director.

Sadly, Myrtle Gonzalez passed away at the young age of 27 during the worldwide Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. When she died, she was at her parent’s home in Los Angeles.

In honour of Myrtle, Google featured her in a Google Doodle on November 23, 2022, in the United States. This date marks the anniversary of the release of the short film “The Level” in 1914, where she starred. Even though she is no longer here, people still remember and celebrate her contributions to early cinema.

Legacy of Myrtle Gonzalez

Myrtle Gonzalez was a really special actress in silent movies. She did things that not many people did in her time. She played roles as a strong and adventurous woman, which was different from what others did back then.

She believed that in movies, you can show feelings and tell stories without using words. This idea still inspires actors today. Myrtle’s impact on the early American film world is remembered and liked by people who love movies and those who study their history.

She left a lasting mark, especially for women in the industry, challenging how things were usually done. Beyond just her performances, Myrtle’s influence is studied and loved by those who care about the history of movies. 

Her legacy is not just about the past; it is still celebrated by people who love movies and want to keep their history alive. Myrtle Gonzalez’s time in silent movies continues to be a guiding light for future filmmakers and performers.

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Myrtle Gonzalez played an important role in the time of silent movies. She began with small parts, but quickly became a famous name. She worked with different movie studios, like Vitagraph and Universal, and was part of some well-known films.

It is sad that Myrtle Gonzalez passed away at just 27 because of the Spanish flu. This was a really sad time for silent films, and her loss was deeply felt. But, she made a big impact in the movie world. 

Myrtle Gonzalez’s story shows us how movies can be powerful, even when no one is talking. Her performances could touch people’s hearts without spoken word and Myrtle’s contributions to the movie world are still appreciated.

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