Google Doodle Spotlights Silent Film Actress Myrtle Gonzalez

She was the first Hispanic movie star in Hollywood. She made a surprising 80 movies in only five years.

Myrtle Gonzalez was a busy actress a hundred years ago. People thought she was Hollywood’s first Latin and Hispanic star actress. She acted in around 80 silent movies from 1913 to 1917.

On Wednesday, Google made a special picture to celebrate Gonzalez’s movie work on the 108th anniversary of one of her best-known movies, The Level, released in 1914. The picture shows Gonzalez filming in three feet of snow in the forest.

Gonzalez was born in Los Angeles in 1891 to a family with Hispanic and Irish roots. Her dad was a grocer, and her mom used to sing opera. Gonzalez took after her mom, showing off her great singing voice in local concerts and church choirs.

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When making movies started happening in California for more exciting places to film, Gonzalez thought it was a great chance to get into the movie world. She usually played brave, outdoorsy heroines facing tough challenges in wild places.

Gonzalez left the movie world in 1917 when she got married to an actor and director named Allen Watt. Sadly, she passed away less than a year later at only 27 years old because of the 1918 influenza pandemic.

A lot of her silent movies got lost over the years, like many from that time. But the Library of Congress kept safe some of her films.