John Bowers (actor)

John Bowers (born John E. Bowersox, December 25, 1885 – November 17, 1936) was an American stage and silent film actor who starred in 94 films including several short subjects. He has been identified as being an inspiration for the character Norman Maine in A Star Is Born (1937).

John Bowers
Publicity photo of Bowers (1921)
John E. Bowersox

(1885-12-25)December 25, 1885
DiedNovember 17, 1936(1936-11-17) (aged 50)
Cause of deathSuicide
Years active1914–1931
Spouse(s)Beulah Poynter (?-?)
Marguerite De La Motte (1924-1936)

Early life and career

Born John E. Bowersox in Garrett, Indiana, to George and Ida Bowersox, John Bowers attended Huntington Business College in Huntington, Indiana, where he became interested in acting. He joined a stock stage group and traveled until he landed in New York in 1912, where he appeared in Broadway productions. Bowers began his film career in 1914. Within five years, he became one of the most popular leading men. During his career he co-starred frequently with Marguerite De La Motte, whom he later married.

Like many silent film stars, Bowers saw his career collapse when talkies became the standard.


On November 17, 1936, Bowers heard that his old friend Henry Hathaway was directing Gary Cooper in Souls at Sea on and off the shore of Santa Catalina. The 50-year-old actor rented a sixteen-foot sloop and sailed to the island, hoping to land a part in the picture only to learn that it had been cast. He never returned to shore and his body was found on the beach at Santa Monica, California. Chuck Palahniuk claims folk legend dictates John simply walked into the ocean upon hearing this news.[1]

His life and particularly his death is identified as inspiration for the character Norman Maine in A Star Is Born (1937). That character was also based on Norman Kerry.[2]

For his contributions to the film industry, Bowers received a motion pictures star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1709 Vine Street in 1960.[3][4]

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1914 The Baited Trap Blondie
1914 In the Days of the Thundering Herd Dick Madison
1915 The Woman Pays John Langton Credited as John E. Bowers
1916 Madame X Monsieur Floriot
1916 Destiny's Toy Reverend Robert Carter
1917 Darkest Russia Alexis Nazimoff
1917 A Self-Made Widow Fitzhugh Castleton
1917 Betsy Ross Joseph Ashburn
1918 A Woman of Redemption Tim Stanton
1919 Strictly Confidential Vernon, Lord Bantock
1919 The Pest Gene Giles
1920 Godless Men Dan Darrin
1921 The Ace of Hearts Mr. Forrest
1921 Voices of the City Graham
1922 Quincy Adams Sawyer Quincy Adams Sawyer
1922 South of Suva John Webster
1923 The Woman of Bronze Paddy Miles
1924 The White Sin Grant Van Gore
1924 Code of the Wilderness Rex Randerson
1925 Confessions of a Queen Prince Alexei\
1925 Daughters Who Pay Dick Foster
1925 Chickie Barry Dunne
1926 Rocking Moon Gary Tynan
1926 The Dice Woman Hamlin
1926 Pals in Paradise
1927 The Heart of the Yukon Jim Winston
1927 Ragtime Ted Mason
1929 Say It with Songs Dr. Burnes, surgeon
1929 Skin Deep District Attorney Carlson
1931 Mounted Fury Jim Leyton


  1. Palahniuk, C. (2009) "Sheila", Snuff (p. 151). New York: Anchor Books.
  2. Brettell, Andrew; King, Noel; Kennedy, Damien; Imwold, Denise (2005). Cut!: Hollywood Murders, Accidents, and Other Tragedies. Leonard, Warren Hsu; von Rohr, Heather. Barrons Educational Series. p. 71. ISBN 0-7641-5858-9.
  3. "John Bowers | Hollywood Walk of Fame". Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  4. "John Bowers". Retrieved June 26, 2016.
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