Saturday, March 03, 2012

Unknown Logan Celebrity - Gordon Westcott

So I read this letter in the Herald Journal a few days ago...

http://news.hjnews.com/news/article_9db1079a-6229-11e1-8a2a-0019bb2963f4.html

You can read the original wikipedia article that he mentioned here...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logan,_UT

But Logan has another long forgotten link to Hollywood. His stage name was Gordon Westcott, his real name was Myrthus Hickman.



He was born in southern Utah but was raised in Logan before leaving to seek his fame on the stage in New York and later on the screen in Hollywood.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0922503/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Westcott

Myrthus was the son of Josiah Hickman by his third wife Helen Hansen Hickman Benedict. Myrthus had 1 full brother and 16 half siblings through his father's first 2 marriages, and 4 half siblings through his mother's second marriage.

Grandpa


Grandma


Before he was famous he was a student and track star and played football in Logan at BYC (aka BYA aka USU), where he met and married my grandmother. For whatever reasons, he left her just one month after my father was born (August 15th 1922 according to the divorce decree) and she had to raise him without a father, without any financial support from her husband, but with the full support of her family.  She later applied for  and was granted a divorce and sole custody of my father.



He has credits in at least 35 films, and appeared as an uncredited extra in a few more films over the course of his relatively short career. During his movie career he had contracts with Paramount, Warner Brothers and MGM and appeared in both silent and talking films.





My father only saw his father in person a couple times in his life. Most of what we know about him is from a handful of letters from him, some newspaper clippings, and the movies he was in.





Myrthus spent a lot of his youth around horses and was a skilled rider. He was chosen to be a member Walt Disney's studio polo team.





The cup in the photos above was sent to my father after Myrthus died. In case you can't read it, it says:


RCC
8 GOAL POLO TOURNAMENT
SEPT 1935
WON BY
WALTER WANGER
LIONEL PEDLY
SNOWY BAKER
GORDON WESTCOTT

I looked up the other members of the team. Walter Wanger was a producer. Snowy Baker was an Australian olympian and hollywood actor (real name - Reginald Leslie Baker). Unfortunately I haven't found any information on Mr. Lionel Pedly.

It was in a polo match (actually playing for MGM against the Disney team at this point) that he was fatally injured, some sources say it was October 27th, some say October 28th.  According to his obituary in the Ogden Standard Examiner he was injured on Sunday October 27th.  He was hospitalized for a few days but never regained consciousness and died October 30th, 1935. He was cremated and his ashes were interred in the Columbarium of the Graces (N-11016) inside the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, CA.



The last few times that I've been to Southern California I've tried to visit his grave. Unfortunately the building where his ashes are kept has been locked each time we've tried to see it. The photo below is my little sister and her daughter on our last visit to the cemetery (about 6 years ago), standing outside the Columbarium of the Graces.







PS - All the black and white photos in this post are ones that I have imaged from my father's own archives. None of them are labeled, dated, or have any photographer or studio information. If you know who took any of those photos I would love to give them proper credit. Also if you know what movies the 2 film stills came from please let me know so I can cite the correct films. All color photos taken by me.

1 comment:

Gregorama said...

How interesting to come upon your posting. Thanks for providing some information on your grandfather. Whenever I watch old movies on TCM, I constantly refer to Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com) and look up unknown facts about each film I view. While watching "Our Dancing Daughters," I spotted your grandfather in his scene with Joan Crawford and looked up his name to see who it was--thinking it odd that I'd never heard of/seen such a striking looking actor before. Shocking to read about his tragic, early death and unfortunately short career. But it sure seems that he lived his brief life to the fullest and, fortunately, left living legacies: His family. You've done a good thing, keeping his name alive. If not for people such as yourself, the once-bright eminences of the past get buried by the sands of time. Thanks for sharing!