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Myrtle Gonzalez: An Iconic Silent Film Star and ‘The Virgin White Lily of the Screen

Myrtle Gonzalez gained prominence primarily for her portrayal of Enid Maitland in Vitagraph’s six-reel feature-length drama, “The Chalice of Courage” (1915), in which she starred alongside William Duncan. A magazine writer once bestowed upon her the title of “The Virgin White Lily of the Screen.”

Who is Myrtle Gonzalez?

Myrtle Gonzalez enduring legacy is celebrated by numerous film historians and enthusiasts who acknowledge her pivotal role in shaping the nascent era of Hollywood. She laid the foundation for forthcoming generations of actors and actresses, and her extraordinary talent and magnetic presence continue to ignite the creative passions of artists worldwide.

Myrtle Gonzalez’s Biography

She was born on September 28, 1891, and passing away on October 22, 1918, left a significant mark as an American actress. Her legacy comprises appearances in over 78 silent era motion pictures between 1913 and 1917, encompassing 66 one and two-reel shorts. Myrtle is celebrated as a prominent figure in the world of cinema.

She started her acting career when she was just 22 years old. She swiftly advanced in the success hierarchy via her work, received widespread acclaim, and had a profound effect on others’ lives.

Profile Summary

Full NameMyrtle Gonzalez
NicknameMyrtle
GenderFemale
Date of BirthSeptember 28, 1891
Age27
myrtle gonzalez deathOctober 22, 1918
Cause of DeathSpanish Flu Pandemic
BirthplaceLos Angeles
NationalityAmerican
ReligionChristian
Father’s NameManuel George Gonzalez
Mother’s NameLillian L. Cook
SiblingsManuel G. Gonzalez, Jr., Stella M. Gonzalez
Husband/SpouseParks Jones (Divorced in 1910), Allen Watt
ChildrenJames Parks Jones, Jr.
Height5 feet 5 inches (165 cm)
Weight50 kg

Myrtle Early Life

From an early age, Myrtle’s exceptional dramatic flair was evident, accompanied by a strong soprano voice. She took part in numerous local concerts and charity events, actively participating in church choirs as well. Her early theatrical experiences included playing youthful roles alongside well-known figures like Fanny Davenport and Florence Stone.

Around 1910, She entered matrimony with James Parks Jones. Their union brought forth a son, James Parks Jones Jr. (c. 1911–1970), before ultimately leading to their separation through divorce.

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Movie Career

With her upbringing in Los Angeles, the migration of movie production to her hometown became a significant advantage for Gonzalez’s film journey. She was associated with renowned studios like Vitagraph and Universal.

Under the banner of Vitagraph, she featured alongside William Desmond Taylor in five movies, including the comedy/drama “Her Husband’s Friend” (1913), the gripping “Tainted Money” (1914), the comedic “Millions for Defence” (1914), the poignant “The Kiss” (1914), and the compelling “Captain Alvarez” (1914).

Across her roles, Gonzalez consistently portrayed robust, outdoor-spirited heroines. Throughout the final six years of her career, her filmography often revolved around narratives set in snowy landscapes and forest settings.

List of Some popular Myrtle Gonzalez Movies: 

  • 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)

Myrtle Parents

Myrtle parents, Charles Gebhart and Georgia Belle Brown, were both passionate creatives who nurtured their daughter’s artistic interests.

Charles was a renowned painter in Los Angeles, while Georgia pursued a career as a writer, frequently contributing to local newspapers and magazines. Myrtle, their only child, received unwavering support from her parents for her film career throughout her life.

Personal Life

On December 1, 1917, she entered into matrimony with actor/director Allen Watt (1885–1944) in Los Angeles.Subsequently, she stepped away from her work in the film industry and embraced retirement. Their introduction occurred during Watt’s role as an assistant director at Universal Studios. Their marriage transpired against the backdrop of the United States’ involvement in World War I, with Watt assuming an officer’s position in the US Army stationed at Camp Lewis, near Tacoma, Washington.

However, Gonzalez’s delicate health couldn’t tolerate the climate, leading Captain Watt to be placed on the retirement list. This decision allowed him to accompany her back to Southern California. He subsequently resumed his work at Universal and embarked on a career in directing.

Myrtle Gonzalez’s Marriages

In 1910, Myrtle Gonzalez tied the knot with James Parks Jones, but their marriage ended in divorce the following year. She later wed actor/director Alan Watt on December 1, 1917, in Los Angeles. She met Watt when she was working as Universal’s assistant director, near the conclusion of her career in the film business. Watt was a US Army commander stationed at Camp Lewis, not far from Tacoma, Washington, when they were married, and the US had already joined World War I.

Myrtle Gonzalez’s Net Worth

The primary source of Myrtle’s income stemmed from the sale of Yeezy sneakers. The proceeds from this venture were substantial enough to rank among the most significant celebrity earnings ever recorded, even though she had exaggerated the extent of her business over the years. Her acting prominence was the cornerstone of her earnings. Estimates place her net worth between $1 million and $5 million

Myrtle Gonzalez Death

Tragically, at the age of 27, Gonzalez succumbed to the global Spanish flu pandemic of October 22, 1918. Her passing occurred while she was staying at her parents’ residence located at 908 West Thirtieth Street in Los Angeles.

Myrtle Gonzalez Memorialized with Google Doodle

Gonzalez made 80 Films in just a span of five years and to remember her legacy Google Doodle Celebrates this pioneer Mexican American Actress on the anniversary of the 1914 release of “The Level”, which is one of her well-known films.

Conclusion

Myrtle Gonzalez, an iconic actress whose brilliance and allure continue to captivate filmmakers and artists to this day. Her profound contributions to the film industry left an indelible mark, persisting as an enduring testament despite her untimely departure. Her passion for doodling further exemplified her boundless creative spirit, and her sketches and drawings remain treasured relics of her legacy. We can only ponder the potential of the other remarkable works she might have created.

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