Film Star

Gareth’s first film had been for Jacques Tyrol in 1915 but the first performance of any note was Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1919) with May McAvoy for Famous Players-Lasky. In 1919, Clara Kimball Young persuaded Gareth to Hollywood to play the juvenile lead, her brother, in Eyes of Youth (1919), a film in which Rudolph Valentino played a small part. Gareth was teamed with Viola Dana in The Chorus Girl’s Romance (1920), which brought him to even greater attention.

“Mrs Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch” – Promotional Montage

In September 1920, he became Metro’s ‘boy star’ and was lined up for five films with George D. Baker and S-L Pictures. No sooner signed, Gareth took a leave of absence to film Sentimental Tommy (1921) at Paramount’s new studios on Long Island, New York. Author James M. Barrie himself had selected Gareth for the part.

"Sentimental Tommy"
“Sentimental Tommy”

Gareth’s film career peaked in the early to mid twenties. He worked with many great directors and stars but, by 1923, starring roles were turning into cameos in good films such as Enemies of Women (1923) and The Spanish Dancer (1923), and then, toward the end of the twenties, to starring and lesser roles in poor, low budget films. He is almost pitiful in a small part as a retard in the talkie Mister Antonio (1929), a sad debut in talking pictures. His next and final appearance in films was in the Richard Talmadge flop, Scareheads (1931).

“Enemies of Women” [BFI Stills, Posters & Designs] “Spanish Dancer” [BFI Stills, Posters & Designs] “Scareheads” – Gareth (left) Richard Talmadge (far right) [BFI Stills, Posters & Designs]

His greatest love was theatre and he never fully respected film. Sentimental Tommy was the only one of his forty-five films for which he expressed a liking. Gareth’s boyish looks and slight physique had brought him success in vulnerable, emotional and artistic parts but, in 1925 and aged 31, the crossover between boy and man failed to provide a sufficiently rugged or sustainable image to keep him with the high flyers. Gareth, at times, had shown a surprising ability for light comedy but neither that nor his dramatic ability could prevent the slide.  Although losing his considerable investment in the Wall Street Crash of 1929 was not a direct contributory factor to the demise of his film career, it couldn’t have helped.

"Gareth with signature"

"Jack Dempsey & Gareth"
"Gareth & Jack Dempsey"

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