21 May 2015

Peggy Hyland

Pretty brunette Peggy Hyland (1884–1973) was an English film actress and director, who starred in more than 45 British and American silent films. She remained active in films until 1925.

Peggy Hyland
British postcard in the Lilywhite Photographic series. Photo: William Fox.

The Love of an Actress

Peggy Hyland was born Gladys Lucy Hutchinson in Harborne a suburb of Birmingham, in 1884. She was educated in Britain and at convents in Europe. The first convent she attended was Seroule in Verviers, on the frontier of Belgium.

In 1910, she began to act on stage, according to Wikipedia after consulting a seer who foretold her great success. She toured with legendary stage actor Cyril Maude in the play The Yellow Jacket.

Hyland began her screen career in 1912. Women and British Cinema (WSBC) mentions as her first film the Clarendon production The Love of an Actress (Wilfred Noy, 1914). According to Paul Rothwell-Smith at IMDb, she made her film debut for the Neptune Film Co. in In the Rank (Percy Nash, 1914) starring Gregory Scott.

That year, she also married her first husband, Owen Grant Evan-Thomas. The next year, she starred for G.B. Samuelson Productions in the drama John Halifax, Gentleman (George Pearson, 1915). She played Ursula March opposite Fred Paul in the title role. For Samuelson, she also appeared in Infelice (L.C. MacBean, Fred Paul, 1915) with Fred Paul and Queenie Thomas.

In the following year, she reunited with George Pearson for the romance Sally Bishop (George Pearson, 1916) starring Marjorie Villis and Aurelio (or Aurele) Sidney.

Between 1916 and 1920 she was based in America working for Fox, Vitagraph and Famous Players. For Vitagraph, she co-starred with E.H. Sothern in The Chattel (Fred Thomson, 1916) and appeared as Olette in The Sixteenth Wife (Charles Brabin, 1917). Opposite Antonio Moreno, she played in the drama Her Right to Live (Paul Scardon, 1917) as the head of a of a family of orphaned children destined for the poorhouse.

The Moving Picture World in 1917: “In selecting a cast for Her Right to Live, the five-reel Vitagraph Blue Ribbon Feature written by Paul West, the man in charge has had the courage to give Peggy Hyland the part of a heroine of the most pronounced soubrette type. All the stage tricks that tradition has bequeathed to the simple but roguish village maiden, are to be expected in the character of Polly Biggs. The star of Her Right to Live discards them entirely and makes the orphan girl a natural human being with a bright sunny nature, and an innocence that is not more wise than nice.”

In the Fox Film drama Debt of Honour (O.A.C. Lund, 1918), Hyland sacrifices her good name to shield the reputation of a U.S. Senator who has taken her in his home as an orphan. Perhaps her best known film was the Fox production The Merry-Go-Round (Edmund Lawrence, 1919) in which she played both a Gypsy and heroin Susie Alice Pomeroy opposite Jack Mulhall. Newspapers of the era described her double role in this romance as one of the actress' best performances. The crime film Black Shadows (Howard M. Mitchell, 1920) was another Fox Film feature in which Peggy portrayed Marjorie Langdon, a victim of hypnotism who begins to have compulsions to steal.

Peggy Hyland
British postcard. Photo: Fox.

Peggy Hyland
British postcard in Valentine's Real Photograph series, no. 8251. Photo: William Fox.

Producer and director

Peggy Hyland's film credits number more than forty-five, in both British and American productions. Back in England, Australian Fred Leroy Granville directed her for G.B. Samuelson Productions in films like the romances The Honeypot (1920) with Lillian Hall-Davis, and the sequel Love Maggy (1921) with James Lindsay. The Australian director became her husband, but also this second marriage later would end in a divorce.

She also starred in the comedy Mr. Pim Passes By (Albert Ward, 1921) with Henry Kendall. It was based on the 1919 play of the same title by A.A. Milne. In 1922 Hyland told in Kinematograph Weekly that a woman was ‘as capable a director as a man’ and hoped to prove the truth of this assertion with a series of two reel comedies she was to direct.

Hyland wrote, produced, directed and starred in With Father's Help (Peggy Hyland, 1922) and she directed and starred in The Haunted Pearls (Peggy Hyland, 1924), according to Paul Rothwell-Smith at IMDb, although there is no lemma of this film on IMDb.

In 1923, she was back in the U.S. to star in the Arabian adventure Shifting Sands (Fred Leroy Granville, 1923). She stopped making films in 1925. Her final film was the British adventure film Forbidden Cargoes (Fred LeRoy Granville, 1926).

There is only little information about her later life. Wikipedia: “The date of death for Hyland has not been definitively determined. The last whereabouts of her was her marriage to Universal film producer Fred LeRoy Granville in September 1921. (...) She may have after the divorce from Granville reverted to her birth name to allow a clean exit from the film industry. A search of the Find a Grave database, non-famous section, yields no Peggy Hyland (August 2010). However there are several Gladys Hutchinsons, one of whose date of birth is unknown and who apparently died in England in 1944 during World War II and was possibly a casualty of an air raid.”

IMDb notes that Peggy Hyland died in 1973 at the age of 88 in Tonbridge, England, UK.

Peggy Hyland
British postcard in the Lilywhite Photographic series. Photo: Fox.

Peggy Hyland
British postcard in the Lilywhite Photographic series. Photo: William Fox.

Sources: Paul Rothwell-Smith (IMDb), Women and British Cinema, Wikipedia and IMDb.

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