William Garwood

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

William Garwood
Garwood, c. 1915
Born(1884-04-28)April 28, 1884
DiedDecember 28, 1950(1950-12-28) (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materDrury College
OccupationActor, director
Years active19091919

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 (1911), The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1911), David Copperfield (1911), The Merchant of Venice (1912), and Little Dorrit (1913), and Robin Hood (1913). In total, he starred in more than 150 short and feature films.

Early life

William Davis Garwood, Jr. was born in Springfield, Missouri.[1] He attended public schools in Springfield before moving to New Mexico at the age of 15. He moved back to Springfield to attend Drury College, where he was awarded prizes for his abilities in dramatic reading and literature.[1][2] While at Drury, Garwood ran the 100-yard (91 m) dash in 10.20 seconds and also played on the 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 but Garwood pursued acting instead.


Early years

Garwood began his acting career in 1903 for $3.50 per week with the Lakeside Theatre at Elitch's Gardens in Denver. For two years, he worked 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.[1] 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.[3] Later, he was with Kyrle Bellew in Brigadier Girard and with S. Miller Kent in Raffles.[3] 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.

Films and directing

In November 1909, Garwood joined Thanhouser Company in New Rochelle, New York 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 acquired by Majestic Motion Picture Company, and became, with Francelia Billington and Fred Mace, one of three featured stars in the "New Majestic" films. 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 Studios.

Garwood left American Studios after eight months and signed a two-year contract with Universal Film Manufacturing Company in late May 1914. Garwood's first picture for Universal was On Dangerous Ground, released in 1915. By this time, Garwood's popularity had risen and he became a popular leading man with a sizable female fan base.[1] During this time, he worked exclusively with a popular actress of the time, Violet Mersereau, with whom he starred in a number of short films.[4] They worked together in many one-reel comedy film 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. During his time at Universal, Garwood also starred as the title character in Lord John in New York (now considered lost).[5] Based on the short story by C.N. and A.M. Williamson, the film proved to be popular with audiences and Garwood starred in four more Lord John films over the following months.[4]

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 signed with Kay-Bee Pictures (which released through the Triangle Film Corporation).[4] In 1917 Garwood starred in the films A Magdalene of the Hills (Rolfe for Metro Pictures) and The Little Brother (Kay-Bee for Triangle).

For the next two years he was involved in many films both in acting and directing, 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 screen appearance.

Personal life

Garwood was a lifelong bachelor and had no children.

Interests and hobbies

In the early summer of 1913, when he was acting in the Majestic film The Toy, Garwood began a lifelong 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. He was also a fervent vegetarian.

Garwood owned several properties; he owned a large ranch near Los Angeles along with seaside lots. He also purchased farm land in Santa Barbara. In 1914 he purchased a six-room bungalow in Whittier, California and oversaw 3 acres (12,000 m2) of irrigated crops.

In addition to real estate and gardening, Garwood was interested in geology, an interest which remained through his life created by his father from a young age and he spent many weekends in the pursuit of mineral specimens. He was also an avid motor racer.

Later years and death

By the late 1910s, Garwood's career began to falter because of his chronic alcoholism.[6] He made his final screen appearance in 1919's A Proxy Husband, which he also directed after which he retired. Garwood reportedly lived off of the fortune he made through various investments.[7]

On December 18, 1950, William Garwood died of cirrhosis due to alcoholism in Los Angeles at the age of 66.[6][8]

Selected filmography

Short subject
Year Title Role Notes
1909 The Cowboy Millionaire Alternative titles: Fell Heir to a Million Dollars
The Millionaire Cowboy
1911 The Pasha's Daughter
1911 Baseball and Bloomers
1911 For Her Sake Confederate Soldier, Lover
1911 Cally's Comet Jack
1911 The Railroad Builder
1911 The Colonel and the King
1911 Flames and Fortune The Rescuer
1911 The Coffin Ship
1911 Courting Across the Court The Lover
1911 Won by Wireless Wireless Operator
1911 That's Happiness The Wealthy Old Woman's Son
1911 The Smuggler The Smuggler
1911 The Buddhist Priestess The Naval Officer
1911 The Higher Law The Minister
1911 David Copperfield
1912 A New Cure for Divorce The Groom
1912 Conductor 786 The Conductor's Son
1912 At the Foot of the Ladder The Society Leader
1912 Please Help the Pore The Poor Father
1912 A Six Cylinder Elopement John Henderson, Gray's Daughter's Sweetheart
1912 Put Yourself in His Place Henry Little
1912 The Little Girl Next Door The Husband
1912 Petticoat Camp
1912 Frankfurters and Quail
1912 The Thunderbolt The Poor Couple's Son, as an Adult
1912 Standing Room Only The Cook's Sweetheart
1912 Aurora Floyd
1912 With the Mounted Police The Mounted Policeman
1913 The Heart of a Fool Sir Roger Motley
1913 The Evidence of the Film The Broker
1913 Some Fools There Were First Unsuspecting Bachelor
1913 Her Gallant Knights
1913 For Her Boy's Sake The Son
1913 The Caged Bird The Prince
1913 The Oath of Pierre Pierre Dorchet – a Young Trapper
1913 Beautiful Bismark The Real Estate Agent
1913 The Lady Killer
1913 The Shoemaker and the Doll The Shoemaker
1913 A Mix-Up in Pedigrees Bob Brown
1913 Through the Sluice Gates John Browning
1913 The Oath of Tsuru San Ned Winthrop
1913 Article 47, L'
1913 The House in the Tree Jack – age 20
1913 Rick's Redemption Rick
1914 The Ten of Spades Ralph West – the Prospector
1914 A Ticket to Red Horse Gulch Jack Oliver
1914 A Turn of the Cards John Richards
1914 Fate's Decree John Graves
1914 The Green-Eyed Devil
1914 The Hunchback Tom Carson – a Young Prospector
1914 Imar the Servitor Imar
1914 The Body in the Trunk
1914 The Lost Sermon Rev. John Strong
1914 The Unmasking Harold Clark
1914 Nature's Touch Richard Stone
1914 The Cameo of the Yellowstone Cameo – the Cowpuncher
1914 Feast and Famine Jerry Benton – the Son
1914 A Man's Way Henry
1914 Does It End Right?
1914 Their Worldly Goods Frank Mason
1914 Break, Break, Break Tom Day, a Son of the People
1914 The Cocoon and the Butterfly
1914 His Faith in Humanity Jim Marsh
1914 The Taming of Sunnybrook Nell Steve, a Woodcutter
1914 Billy's Rival Billy Manning
1914 Jail Birds Robert MacFarlane, a young attorney Alternative title: Jailbirds
1914 In the Open Ben Carroll, a Young Ranchman
1914 Sweet and Low
1914 Sir Galahad of Twilight Bryan Kyam
1914 Redbird Wins Philip Pierpont
1914 Old Enough to Be Her Grandpa Rollie – Stephen's Grandson
1914 In the Candlelight Ralph, a Young Art Student
1914 The Strength o' Ten Jep
1914 The Sower Reaps Ben Rolfe
1915 The Legend Beautiful Jose Cordero
1915 On Dangerous Ground Williams – the Bank Cashier
1915 The Stake
1915 She Never Knew
1915 The Supreme Impulse Earl Graham
1915 Wild Blood Walt Hiller Director
1915 The Adventure of the Yellow Curl Papers Ted Alternative title: The Mystery of the Yellow Curl Papers
1915 Uncle's New Blazer Billy Director
1915 Destiny's Trump Card Bill Avery Director
1915 You Can't Always Tell Harrington Spencer – Reporter Director
1915 Larry O'Neill Larry O'Neill
1915 Thou Shalt Not Lie Fred Harnett aka Harrington
1915 Driven by Fate
1915 Billy's Love Making Billy Burnitt Director
1915 The Wolf of Debt Bruce Marsden
1915 The Unnecessary Sex John
1915 Getting His Goat Bill
1916 The Grey Sisterhood Lord John Haselmore Lord John's Journal ep. 2[9][10]
1916 Three Fingered Jenny Lord John Haselmore Lord John's Journal ep. 3[9][10]
1916 The Eye of Horus Lord John Haselmore Lord John's Journal ep. 4[9][10]
1916 The League of the Future Lord John Haselmore Lord John's Journal ep. 5[9][10]
1916 Billy's War Brides Director
1916 His Picture Director
1916 Two Seats at the Opera Michael Claney Director
1916 The Gentle Art of Burglary
1916 A Society Sherlock Director
1916 He Wrote a Book Director
1916 Arthur's Desperate Resolve Director
1916 A Soul at Stake Director
1916 The Decoy Director
1917 A Magdalene of the Hills Eric Southward Alternative title: A Magdalen of the Hills
1917 The Little Brother Franak Girard
1919 Proxy Husband Director
Year Title Role Notes
1915 Lord John in New York Lord John Haselmore Lost film; Lord John's Journal ep. 1[9][10]
1916 Broken Fetters Lawrence Demarest
1918 The Guilty Man Claude Lescuyer
1918 Her Moment Jan Drakachu
1918 Wives and Other Wives Norman Craig


  1. Doyle, Billy H.; Slide, Anthony (1995). The Ultimate Directory Of the Silent Screen Performers: A Necrology Of Births and Deaths and Essays On 50 Lost Players. Scarecrow Press. p. 27. ISBN 0-810-82958-4.
  2. Grau, Robert (1914). The Theatre of Science: A Volume of Progress and Achievement in the Motion Picture Industry. Broadway Publishing Company. p. 375.
  3. Grau 1914 p.376
  4. "William Garwood Plays Various Roles". Motion Picture. Macfadden-Bartell. 41: 78. 1917.
  5. Soister, John T. (2012). American Silent Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Feature Films, 1913-1929. McFarland. p. 726. ISBN 0-786-48790-9.
  6. Klepper, Robert K. (1999). Silent Films, 1877-1996: A Critical Guide to 646 Movies. McFarland. p. 37. ISBN 0-786-40595-3.
  7. Boyle 1995 p.28
  8. Vazzana, Eugene Michael (2001). Silent Film Necrology. McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. p. 190. ISBN 0-786-41059-0.
  9. Wlaschin, Ken (2009). Silent Mystery and Detective Movies: A Comprehensive Filmography. McFarland. p. 129. ISBN 9780786454297. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  10. "Lord John in New York". AFI. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
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