SCV in the Movies: Episode 34: Actress Peggy Stewart Co-Hosts “Dead Man’s Gold” (1948)
Western Leading Lady Peggy Stewart got her start in the movies in the 1930s, often filming in Newhall. Today she lives right around the corner from some of those old locations, in a community that didn’t exist back then – Valencia. Stewart joins hosts E.J. Stephens and Bill West for a showing of 1948’s “Dead Man’s Gold,” in which she starred opposite Lash La Rue.
ABOUT PEGGY STEWART
Growing up in Florida, American actress Peggy Stewart naturally gravitated to the water, and distinguished herself as a swimming champ in high school. Her family moved to California in the mid ’30s, where she made the acquaintance of character actor Henry O’Neill. Aware that Paramount Pictures was looking for a new face to play the part of Joel McCrea’s and Frances Dee’s daughter in Wells Fargo (1936), O’Neill recommended Stewart. The assignment led to numerous other roles for the teenaged actress, who by the end of 1940 was not only established in Hollywood but the wife of actor Don “Red” Barry (Stewart was also the sister-in-law of another actor, Wayne Morris). At about the time her marriage was breaking up in 1944, Stewart signed with Republic Studios, where, starting with Tucson Raiders (1944), she became resident leading lady for many of Republic’s western stars. She also appeared in serials at Republic but preferred westerns because the shooting schedules were shorter and she was able to wear a more varied wardrobe. Leaving Republic in 1948, she freelanced until 1953, when she briefly gave up acting to become a casting director at NBC television; she also married again, to actor Buck Young. As the ’50s progressed Stewart eased back into acting, but only in roles that would provide a challenge to her. In 1974, she won the Los Angeles Drama Circle award for her stage performance in Picnic. Long retired, Peggy Stewart has in the last two decades become one of the favorite guest speakers on the nostalgia convention and western film festival circuit.
ABOUT E.J. STEPHENS
E.J. Stephens is a noted Hollywood historian, author, lecturer and tour guide. An Indiana native, E.J. has lived for 10 years in the Santa Clarita Valley with his wife Kimi and their two children, Mariah and Dylan.
By day, E.J. can be found in Burbank on the Warner Bros. Studios lot where he is a tour guide and an audience coordinator on Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show. When not giving tours at the studio, E.J. and Kimi host tours of their own for their Newhall-based company, Newhallywood Tours.
E.J. has co-written four books on subjects ranging from the history of Warner Bros. and Paramount to Griffith Park and the Santa Clarita Valley (the latter with Kimi and Dr. Alan Pollack). The trio is currently working on another SCV history book titled “Then & Now: The Santa Clarita Valley,” scheduled to hit the shelves in early 2014.
ABOUT BILL WEST©2013 SCVTV
Bill West is a movie nut who serves on the board of Friends of Hart Park, gives tours of the Hart Mansion and maintains the Friends’ website.
In his spare time, Bill writes software for Walt Disney Imagineering, where he has contributed to Star Tours, Toy Story Midway Mania, the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and other attractions. Previously, he wrote software at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Bill enjoys lounge music and he plays the drums for pickup bands. He lives in Santa Clarita with his Realtor (his wife Liliana) and their son Josh. Pets include Maya the Mutt, Luigi the Canary, and a cat whose name he can’t pronounce but is Polish for “kitty.”