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Myrtle Stedman

Biography: 

(1883-1938)

Star of the Dallas Pictures Corporation in 1915-16, and a fixture in Paramount Pictures during World War I, Myrtle Stedman was one of the earliest of female movie stars, appearing in the Selig Polyscope westerns shot in Colorado in 1911. Prior to her appearance in motion pictures she was a comic opera singer in Chicago, yet her abilities as a horsewoman and her striking appearance recommended her to Col. Selig. Her earliests roles as a female lead frequently had her playing opposite William Duncan.

In 1913 Tom Mix replaced Duncan and the romance element became more intense.  While "Cupid in the Cow Camp" may have enticed a few women into the theaters, Stedman's role in most of these two- and four-reelers was to be imperilled by badmen.

Paramount subsidiaries took over Stedman's contract in 1914 and decided to expand the range of her performances beyond the ranch and range. Beginning with "The Pursuit of the Phantom" she appeared in several photoplays treating social and psychological issues. Jack Conway appeared as her partner in these releases, and production values increased markedly. Jack London's "The Valley of the Moon" (1915) might be termed a symbolist meditation on marriage.

Stedman did not shy from controversial topics, and appeared in 1916's "Hypocrites" infamous for its nudity and 1920's "Sex." Her finest performance may have been in "The Famous Mrs. Fair." She remained a viable screen artist until the sound era. David S. Shields/ALS