JP (John Paterson) McGowan

John Paterson known professionally as JP McGowan was born in Terowie on 24 February 1880 to Thomas Kennedy and Mary McGowan nee Paterson. He spent his childhood living in the northern railway town of Terowie. If he remained in Terowie, a change of gauge railway town that barely survives today, McGowan's impact on South Australia would have amounted to little. As it is his fame from his work in Hollywood remains largely unknown in his home state.
McGowan made his way to Hollywood to find his fame as an actor.

He joined the former Kalem Studios at 1725–1735 Fleming Street (now Hoover Street) Hollywood, California at a time when Westerns were becoming all the rage. When he arrived at the studios one-reeler silent serial Western films were the main output of this company. McGowan made several action films and became known as the Railroad Man because of the films he made usually featured railways. It would be fanciful to think his childhood days in Terowie stirred an interest in railways as a theme but more likely it was the fact that they were such an integral part of opening up the Wild West that was more likely behind the concept.

At this time JP McGowan met and fell in love with Helen Holmes, the actress playing the classic beautiful woman tied to the tracks only to be saved in the nick of time by the hero. In fact McGowan is credited with being the first to create this scenario. he and Helen were quite a team. The on-going serial, Hazards of Helen stretched into 119 episodes with titles like Leap from the Water Tower (Episode 9), The Pay Train (Episode 31) and In Danger’s Path (Episode 33).

The works were low budget productions, and McGowan was able to turn out instalments one after another, finding time to act in many of them as well, usually as the villain.

By the 1930s McGowan was widely recognised as a significant player in the film industry and he began appearing in larger studio productions. As director, some of his films include The Lost Express (1926), Manhattan Cowboy (1928), Code of the West (1929), The Hurricane Express (a 12 chapter serial resulting in a film by the same name starring John Wayne in 1932), Deadwood Pass (1933) and Rough Riding Rhythm (1937). McGowan also acted in such films as Evelyn Prentice (1934), In Old Chicago (1937), and the Western classic Stagecoach (1939).

JP McGowan died on 26 March 1952 in Hollywood ending a career working in Hollywood for 30 years being involved in about 600 productions in various capacities. After cremation he was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Park's Great Mausoleum Columbarium of Fidelity in Los Angeles County.

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