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April 28, 1884|
Springfield, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||December 28, 1950
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
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, The Pied Piper of Hamelin and David Copperfield (1911), The Merchant of Venice (1912), and Little Dorrit and Robin Hood (1913). In total, he appeared starred in more than 150 films.
Garwood was born in Springfield, Missouri, and at the age of 15 moved to New Mexico for several years. His advanced education was at Springfield's Drury College, where he was awarded prizes for his abilities in dramatic reading and literature. Garwood could have pursued a career as a top athlete and ran the 100-yard (91 m) dash in 10.20 seconds, also playing on the college 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. However, young Garwood had other plans, and aspired to be an actor on stage.
Among his early work was employment in 1903 for $3.50 per week with the Lakeside Theatre at Elitch's Gardens in Denver, where for two years he did 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. 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. Later, he was with Kyrle Bellew in Brigadier Girard and with S. Miller Kent in Raffles. 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.
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 now acquired by Majestic, and became, with Francelia Billington and Fred Mace, one of three featured stars in the "New Majestic" films. In an interview in Photoplay magazine in February 1913, he said that he was in love with love, life, and laughter, was fond of cars and blonde girls. His involvement with fast cars was particularly well known, and he reportedly drove the streets of New Rochelle at high speeds.
In the early summer of 1913, when he was acting in the Majestic film The Toy, William 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. Very much the farmer, in 1914 he purchased a six-room bungalow in Whittier, California and oversaw 3 acres (12,000 m2) of irrigated crops.
An article in Reel Life on July 11, 1914, told of the enlargement of his real estate holdings: "William Garwood, of the American, believes in expansion. He has a big ranch near Los Angeles and several seaside lots. Now he is purchasing farm lands in the vicinity of Santa Barbara. Mr. Garwood is no mere real estate barterer. He cultivates his property intensively and makes it pay. He says that he has no intention of buying an automobile out of his salary at the studios, but he plans to get one of the finest cars on the market from the income of his land investments."
After being with American, based in Santa Barbara, for eight months, he went to Universal Studios under a two-year contract in late May 1914, where he came under the direction of Lucius J. Henderson. Garwood's first Universal release was On Dangerous Ground.
In 1915, Garwood worked exclusively with a popular actress of the time, Violet Mersereau, whom he starred in a number of films with and directed. They worked together in many films of 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.
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 worked with Thomas H. Ince and went to Kay-Bee Pictures, which released through the Triangle program. In 1917 Garwood starred in the films A Magdalene of the Hills (Rolfe for Metro) and The Little Brother (Kay-Bee for Triangle).
For the next two years he was involved in many films both in acting and directorship, 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.
Garwood was 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) in height, and 165 pounds weight, and in excellent athletic condition. He kept his physique in top shape by swimming and football playing, and continued his running which he had developed in his teen years in his spare time when not engaged in the studio work or cultivating onions in his garden - he was a fervent vegetarian. He always appeared on film as a gentleman with well-groomed dark hair and dark brown eyes. Genial, companionable, Garwood was a distinguished actor, and a successful businessman.
Garwood was determined to remain a bachelor for the entirety of his life and when answering reporters' inquiries about the possibility of his becoming married he always replied strongly with "Never!" It was said that he lived with a Japanese servant, who attended to his personal needs and did most of the cooking, introducing him to sushi and other delicacies.
Garwood remained interested in geology, a legacy which remained through his life created by his father from a young age and he spent many weekends in the pursuit of mineral specimens. By 1920 Garwood's parents had moved to the Los Angeles area and he visited them consistently on a Sunday when he was not pursuing his favorite sport of motor racing.
Later years and death
Between 1920 and 1950 Garwood retired from acting and directorship free to pursue his interests and his love of cultivation and business.