Donald Bowles: West Coast Thespian

Thanks to reader and fellow blogger Carmen Nyssen of Buzzworthy Tattoo for sending this carte de visite of actor Donald Bowles (Percy Keeler Bowles, 1874-1921). Though born in Pennsylvania, Bowles made his fame as an actor on the west coast in the early years of the 20th century. The photo above is from the Baker Theatre in Portland, Oregon from 1906. Bowles toured the Orpheum Circuit (vaudeville) with one act plays and worked for Oliver Morosco for many years, at his Los Angeles Theatres and on tour in Australia. He also appeared in two silent films, Rhoda’s Burglar (1915) and The Squaw Man’s Son (1917), the latter in support of Wallace Reid and Dorothy Davenport. In his later years he was the general manager of the Morosco Theatre.

Bowles’ parents are nearly as interesting as he was. Both were Universalist ministers in Massachusetts. His mother, Ada Bowles (1836-1928) was an early Suffragette and Temperance advocate.

To learn more about vaudeville, please see No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, and for more on silent film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.