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People - Hollywood’s First Australian

Mayor Ruth Whittle OAM enjoying the 2014 Art Prize entries

Hollywood’s First Australian

Background Notes

Hollywood’s First Australian – The adventurous life of J.P.McGowan, the movie pioneer they called The Railroad Man by John J. McGowan (2016) relates the extraordinary story of the Terowie-born motion picture trailblazer who became the first Australian Hollywood star. This is a revised and re-titled Australian edition of the book originally published in the United States under the title J. P. McGowan – Biography of a Hollywood Pioneer by John J. McGowan (2005). The publication of this revised edition was triggered by a surprise discovery in a Queensland shed of a treasure trove of photographs, scrapbooks and other memorabilia relating to J.P. McGowan and his family. Many of these photographs – some never before seen in public - have now been included in the new edition of the book. This book is the only biography of John Paterson (J.P.) McGowan (1880-1952) who, as an actor, director, writer and producer was involved in over 600 productions during a 40-year Hollywood career. As a director, J.P.McGowan specialised in adventure dramas involving trains. With his actress wife Helen Holmes as the star, McGowan pumped out scores of these productions and became known as Hollywood’s Railroad Man. Following his successful screen career, J.P.McGowan became the second-ever Executive Secretary of the Hollywood Screen Directors’ Guild (now the Directors’ Guild of America) and, during a period of service lasting 12 years, he played a crucial role in formulating the industrial framework which continues to underpin the working conditions of the modern motion picture industry. In 1950, in recognition of his service to the Guild, he was awarded the rare accolade of Honorary Life Membership which places him in the company of motion picture luminaries including Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin and David Lean. J. P. McGowan remains the only Australian-born person to have received this award. The book is available from Adelaide bookshops or can be ordered online from Digital Print Australia: http://www.digitalprintaustralia.com/bookstore/non-fiction/biographies/hollywoods-first-australian.html

About the author

John J. McGowan John J. McGowan began his television career as a journalist and later wrote and directed documentaries and educational productions for national television. His television industry awards include the inaugural Australian Human Rights Commission Media Award (1984) for Six Australians, a six-episode documentary series chronicling the lives of six contemporary indigenous Australians. He has written and broadcast extensively on the subject of motion pictures. His biography of John Paterson (J.P.) McGowan (1880-1952) is the result of over twenty years of research undertaken in the United States and Australia. It is the first - and only - comprehensive study to bring to light the details of J.P. McGowan’s adventurous life and the pioneering contribution he made to the development of the motion picture industry. John J. McGowan is a Churchill Fellow (1977) and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Adelaide with majors in History and Politics. He was born in South Australia and lives there now. Contact: John J. McGowan Tel: 0428 538 519 Email: john.mcgowan@internode.on.net