Myrtle Gonzalez: Biography, Films, Legacy and More!

Who is Myrtle Gonzalez?

Myrtle Gonzalez was an iconic silent movie star and an American actress who paved the way for today's Mexican artists in Hollywood.

A long before Hollywood embraced diversity before Latinas graced the silver screen with the full spectrum of their talent, there was a star named Myrtle Gonzalez. Born in Southern California in 1891, her vibrant spirit and undeniable charisma captivated audiences from the moment she set foot on the silent film stage in 1913 (her first appearance as a silent movie star).

With her beautiful dark eyes and a voice that could make you feel the heavens, she defied stereotypes and breathed life into strong, independent women, paving the way for future generations of Hispanic actresses to claim their rightful place in the spotlights of Hollywood. Though she died of the Spanish flu in 1918 just a few years after starting her career, her legacy shines on, a testament to the lasting power of talent, audacity, and a refusal to be defined by limitations.

This is the story of Myrtle Gonzalez, the silent film star who shattered barriers and wrote her name in the annals of cinema history of Hollywood.

Myrtle Gonzalez
A radiant black and white portrait of Myrtle Gonzalez, her dark eyes sparkling with a bold spirit, a touch of naughtiness playing on her lips. This is the face that conquered the silent film era, the face that shattered stereotypes and carved a path for a future generation of Latinas in Hollywood.

Myrtle Gonzalez Biography

Before you read about Myrtle Gonzalez in detail, you can explore her information quickly from the table below:

Information: Details:
Full Name Myrtle Gonzalez
Birthdate September 28, 1891
Birthplace Los Angeles, California, USA
Ethnicity Mexican-Irish
Occupation Actress
Active Years 1913-1918
Number of Films Over 80 Movies, Dramas, and Shows
Notable Films The Level (1914), The Chalice of Courage (1915),
The Girl of Lost Lake (1916)
Known Roles Cowgirls, Western heroines, independent women
Family Father: Manuel Gonzalez (grocer),
Mother: Lillian L. Cook,
Siblings: Stella M. Gonzalez, Manuel G. Gonzalez, Jr.
Husbands Allen Watt (married 1914-1916),
J. Parks Jones (married 1917-1918)
Height Was around 5'4"
Death At the Age of 27 on October 22, 1918,
in Los Angeles, California, USA
(Spanish flu was the cause of her death)
Legacy Pioneering Latina in silent film, challenged stereotypes,
paved the way for future Hispanic actresses,
was honored with a Google Doodle in 2022,
Forbes and other magazines published about her legacy,
inspiration for aspiring artists, and much more!

Now let's read more about Myrtle Gonzalez:

Early Life to Becoming an Artist:

Born in Los Angeles in 1891, Myrtle González was the gorgeous and youngest daughter of a Mexican father and an Irish mother. Her artistic instincts bloomed early, her voice enchanting audiences in local singing engagements, and her presence commanding attention on the stage of amateur theater productions with "Any Port in a Storm (1913)" It was only a matter of time before the magic of Hollywood caught wind of her talent and gave fame to her with "Her Husband's Friend (1913)" and many other shows which she did brilliantly.

Talent Discovery and a Meteoric Rise:

Although she started her Hollywood career with her first film role (a small role) in “The Immigrant” directed by D.W. Griffith.

In 1913, a lucky encounter with a talent scout for the Vitagraph Company of America changed everything for Myrtle Gonzalez. Myrtle's charm and natural stage presence were undeniable, and soon, she found herself becoming a star of the silent film era where the acts sounded louder with volume at zero level. Her debut roles transitioned into leading lady parts, and Hollywood was enthralled by her dazzling beauty and dynamic spirit in just a few months of her starting.

A Prolific Filmography and Enduring Legacy:

Over the next five years, Myrtle's filmography blossomed to encompass over 80 films. From fiery cowgirls in Westerns like "The Girl of Lost Lake" (1916) to courageous heroines in adventure tales like "The Chalice of Courage" (1915), she breathed life into a captivating array of strong, independent women. Even under the limitations of silent film, her expressiveness, and captivating screen presence shone through, captivating audiences across the nation.

Here is a comprehensive filmography of all of Myrtle Gonzalez's known films:

From 1913 to 1916:

  1. 1913: Any Port in a Storm
  2. 1913: The Spell
  3. 1913: The Courage of the Commonplace
  4. 1913: Salvation Sal
  5. 1913: The White Feather
  6. 1913: Thieves
  7. 1913: Deception
  8. 1913: Sacrifice
  9. 1913: The Uprising of Ann
  10. 1913: Her Husband's Friend
  11. 1914: The Yaqui's Revenge
  12. 1914: Tainted Money
  13. 1914: The Ghosts
  14. 1914: The Kiss
  15. 1914: Captain Alvarez
  16. 1914: His Wife and His Work
  17. 1914: Anne of the Mines
  18. 1915: The Level
  19. 1915: The Chalice of Courage
  20. 1915: Through Troubled Waters
  21. 1915: The Bride of the Nancy Lee
  22. 1915: The Terrible Truth
  23. 1916: Missy
  24. 1916: Her Dream Man
  25. 1916: A Romance of Billy Goat Hill
  26. 1916: The Pinnacle
  27. 1916: The Girl of Lost Lake
  28. 1916: The Secret of the Swamp
  29. 1916: The Unexpected Scoop
  30. 1916: It Happened in Honolulu
  31. 1916: Grouches and Smiles
  32. 1916: Her Great Part
  33. 1916: The Thief of the Desert

Films of Myrtle Gonzalez in 1917:

  1. The Bond of Fear
  2. The Trail of the Shadow
  3. The Fighting Chance
  4. The Mystery of the Hacienda
  5. The Girl in the Coffins
  6. The Secret Ring
  7. The Hidden Spring
  8. The Girl Doll
  9. The Woman in the Suitcase
  10. The Whirling Wheel
  11. The Lost Battalion
  12. The Crimson Dove
  13. The Secret of the Morgue
  14. The Fighting Gringo
  15. The Mystery Ship

Films of Myrtle Gonzalez in 1918:

  1. The Woman in the Web
  2. The Whispering Eyes
  3. The Iron Ring
  4. The Girl of the Yukon
  5. The Scarlet Road
  6. The Mating of the Tigers
  7. The Fatal Claim
  8. The Squaw Man's Son
  9. The Wildcat of Paris
  10. The Vamp
  11. The Magic Brush
  12. The Girl with the Red Hair
  13. The Yellow Peril
  14. The Whispering Chorus
  15. The Woman and the Law
  16. The Law of the West

Note: These lists of Myrtle Gonzalez movies and shows represent a majority of Myrtle Gonzalez's known filmography, but it's important to acknowledge that some films may be lost or missing from the written information. Additionally, some films may have alternate titles or release dates that I can't figure out.

Let's keep on reading her true story:

Defying Stereotypes:

In an era when Hollywood often relegated Latinas to stereotypical roles, Myrtle stood as a beacon of defiance to change the rules and let everyone be unique in the industry. Her characters were complex, layered, and above all, human.

Did you know: Many things that you can see today in the pop culture of America are inspired by her lifestyle, clothing, and hairstyles and even posing for the camera. She was also honored with awards such as Bronze Plague by Photoplay Magazine in 1919 for performing in “The Mexican”, The Most Beautiful Woman in Mexico by Alma de Mexico magazine in 1920, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame star given to her in 1960 which is a prestigious award reserved only for the highest achievers of the Hollywood industry.

She possessed the quiet strength of a pioneering woman, challenging preconceived notions and paving the way for her future generations of Hispanic actresses to break barriers and have a name in the industry just like the locals of Hollywood.

A Tragic End and an Enduring Legacy:

Myrtle refused to be confined by the limitations of her time in the Hollywood industry. She tackled roles that challenged stereotypes associated with Latinas, portraying Western heroines, resourceful adventurers, and even a fierce warrior queen in "The Girl of Lost Lake." By showcasing the strength, intelligence, and versatility of Latina women.

Cause of death:

Sadly, in 1918, the Spanish flu pandemic cut short Myrtle's glittering career at the tender age of 27. Though her time on screen was tragically brief (just about 5+ years), her impact on Hollywood was profound.

Today, she is recognized as a trailblazing Latina icon, her memory honored with a Google Doodle in 2022, and for celebrating Myrtle Gonzalez and her true artistic work. Her story serves as an inspiration to aspiring artists across the globe.

Myrtle Gonzalez may be a silent film star, but her voice echoes through the decades, an icon for a life lived with boldness, creativity, and an unwavering spirit.

Remember Myrtle Gonzalez's name, celebrate her story, and let her light guide you on your own path to cinematic greatness.