~Helen Holmes~

Born: June 19, 1893 in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died: July 8, 1950 in Burbank, CA, USA
~Silent Filmography~
The Open Switch (1926)
Perils of the Rail (1926) .... Helen Martin
... aka Perils of the Rails (USA: alternative title)
Crossed Signals (1926) .... Helen Wainwright
The Lost Express (1926) .... Helen Martin
Mistaken Orders (1926) .... Helen Barton
The Fast Freight (1926)
Whispering Smith (1926)
The Train Wreckers (1925)
Webs of Steel (1925) .... Helen Webb
Blood and Steel (1925) .... Helen Grimshaw
Duped (1925) .... Dolores Verdiego (last of the Benevidas)
Barriers of the Law (1925) .... Rita Wingate
The Sign of the Cactus (1925) .... Belle Henderton
Outwitted (1925) .... Helen Kinney
Battling Brewster (1924) .... Margaret Rand
The Riddle Rider (1924) .... Julie Dean
Fighting Fury (1924) .... June Sanford
40-Horse Hawkins (1924) .... Sylvia Dean
Stormy Seas (1923) .... Mary Weems
One Million in Jewels (1923) .... Helen Morgan
The Lone Hand (1922) .... Margie Vanney
... aka False Play
Hills of Missing Men (1922) .... Amy Allis
Ghost City (1921) .... Nada Mayhew
A Crook's Romance (1921)
The Tiger Band (1920) .... Helen Warren

The Fatal Fortune (1919) .... Helen
The Lost Express (1917) .... Helen Thurston
The Railroad Raiders (1917) .... Helen Holmes
A Lass of the Lumberlands (1916) .... Helen Holmes/Helen Dawson
The Manager of the B & A (1916) .... Constance Emory
... aka The Man from Medicine Hat (USA: reissue title)
The Diamond Runners (1916) .... Helen
Judith of the Cumberlands (1916) .... Judith Barrier
... aka The Moonshine Menace (USA: reissue title)
Medicine Bend (1916) .... Marion Sinclair
... aka At Medicine Bend (USA: alternative title)
Whispering Smith (1916) .... Marion Sinclair
The Girl and the Game (1915) .... Helen
When Rogues Fall Out (1915)
A Desperate Leap (1915)
The Mettle of Jerry McGuire (1915)
The Railroad Raiders of '62 (1915) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#19): The Railroad Raiders of '62 (USA: series title)
The Death Train (1915) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#17): The Death Train (USA: series title)
The Open Drawbridge (1915) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#16): The Open Drawbridge (USA: series title)
The Engineer's Peril (1915) .... Helen
... aka Hazards of Helen, The (#15): The Engineer's Peril (USA: series title)
The Red Signal (1915) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#14): The Red Signal (USA: series title)
The Escape on the Fast Freight (1915) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#13): The Escape on the Fast Freight (USA: series title)
The Little Engineer (1915) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#12): The Little Engineer (USA: series title)
The Fast Mail's Danger (1915) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#11): The Fast Mail's Danger (USA: series title)
The Broken Circuit (1915) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#10): The Broken Circuit (USA: series title)
The Leap from the Water Tower (1915) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#9): The Leap from the Water Tower (USA: series title)
The Girl Telegrapher's Peril (1915) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#8): The Girl Telegrapher's Peril (USA: series title)
The Escape on the Limited (1914) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#7): The Escape on the Limited (USA: series title)
The Black Diamond Express (1914) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#6): The Black Diamond Express (USA: series title)
The Flying Freight's Captive (1914) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#5): The Flying Freight's Captive (USA: series title)
The Stolen Engine (1914) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#4): The Stolen Engine (USA: series title)
The Girl at the Throttle (1914) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#3): The Girl at the Throttle (USA: series title)
The Plot at the Railroad Cut (1914) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#2): The Plot at the Railroad Cut (USA: series title)
His Nemesis (1914) .... Beatrice Reynolds
Helen's Sacrifice (1914) .... Helen
... aka The Hazards of Helen (#1): Helen's Sacrifice (USA: series title)
The Hazards of Helen (1914) .... Helen (1914-1915) (Episodes 1-48)
The Demon of the Rails (1914) .... Mabel - the Station Agent
From Peril to Peril (1914) .... Helen Hanley - the Daughter
The Lost Mail Sack (1914) .... Helen Gates
Grouch, the Engineer (1914) .... Mrs. Manson - a Young Widow
Into the Depths (1914) .... Beth Stanford - the Wife
The Oil Well Conspiracy (1914) .... Millie Thompson
The Car of Death (1914) .... Kate - a Schoolmistress
Near Death's Door (1914) .... Helen Ford/Anna - waitress at camp
The Operator at Black Rock (1914) .... Ruth - Black Rock operator
The Identification (1914) .... Bess
The Rival Railroad's Plot (1914) .... Myrtle - a Telegraph Operator
The Express Messenger (1914) .... Ruth - a Stenographer
A String of Pearls (1914) .... Batiste Perazzo - Dominick's Wife
Kaintucky Bill (1914) .... Mary Plunkett - Zeb's Daughter
The Flaw in the Alibi (1914) .... Ruth Fielding - Henry's Daughter
The Conductor's Courtship (1914)
A Man's Soul (1914) .... Lucy Carlton - Richard's Wife
The Stolen Rembrandt (1914) .... Rose
The Nurse and the Counterfeiter (1914) .... Betty Gordon - a Nurse
Under Desperation's Spur (1914) .... Molly Jackson - a Mountain Girl
Fast Freight 3205 (1914) .... Annie - Andrews' Wife
The Refrigerator Car's Captive (1914) .... Delia Drake
The Delayed Special (1914) .... Ruth Lane - Telegraph Operator
A Million in Jewels (1914) .... Princess Oonah
... aka The Rajah's Jewels (USA: alternative title)
The County Seat War (1914) .... Elsie Gordon - the Daughter
Playing for a Fortune (1914) .... Nora
Explosive 'D' (1914) .... Millie Frasier - the Colonel's Daughter
Gilt Edge Stocks (1913) .... Maude Warren
The Foot Print Clue (1913) .... Laura Strong - the Daughter
In Peril of His Life (1913)
The Express Car Mystery (1913) .... Myrtle Grant - John's Wife
The Stolen Tapestries (1913) .... Anna Roberts
The Runaway Freight (1913) .... Ruth - Billy's Sweetheart
The Silent Warning (1913) .... Raphaello - Ralph's Sweetheart
The Hermit's Ruse (1913)
The Battle at Fort Laramie (1913)
A Demand for Justice (1913) .... Alice Marvin - the Daughter
The Monogrammed Cigarette (1913) .... Ethel - Driver's Sweetheart
The Smuggler's Last Deal (1913) .... Jennie
The Substitute Engineer (1913) .... Rose - a Waitress at the Lunch Counter
The Alibi (1913)
Birds of Prey (1913/I) .... Jim's Wife
The Flying Switch (1913) .... Helen - Frank's Sweetheart
Baffled, Not Beaten (1913) .... Claire Carlton - the Daughter
The Treachery of a Scar (1913) .... Ann Vincent - the Daughter
A Fight to a Finish (1913) .... Grace Lewis
Brought to Bay (1913) .... May Madden - Jim's sister
Barney Oldfield's Race for a Life (1913)
Hide and Seek (1913)
Kings Court (1912)
Forever associated with "iron horse operas," energetic, durable Helen Holmes starred in the first 48
or so installments of the Kalem Company's seemingly endless The Hazards of Helen (1914-1917).
Contrary to popular belief, the total of 119 episodes constituted a series rather than a serial in that
each was a self-contained story with no continuing characters as such. The series was successful
enough for Holmes to be considered a serious threat to Pearl White, the star of The Perils of Pauline
and other true action serials. It also served to introduce Holmes to her future husband, J.P.
McGowan, who both directed and co-starred.

A former photographer's model, Helen Holmes had made her Broadway debut in The City at the
Lyric Theatre in 1910. A good friend, comedienne Mabel Normand, persuaded Holmes to try the
movies instead, however, and off she went to Southern California, where she joined the vivacious
Normand at Mack Sennett's Keystone laugh factory. The stay proved short-lived and Holmes bolted
in favor of pioneer company Kalem. Hazards made her an international star and surviving episodes
such as "Leap From the Water Tower" and "The Pay Train" (both 1915) easily explain why. Although
not beautiful in a conventional way, Holmes was plucky, fearless, and a typical example of the
"modern woman" at an age where the suffragette movement was much in the news. Although on
occasion allowing herself to be rescued by the likes of McGowan or Leo Maloney, more often than not
it was Helen who single-handedly caught the villains and brought them to justice. So successful were
the two-reelers that Holmes and McGowan were easily persuaded to go out on their own and form
Signal Films, an independent company releasing on the Mutual program. She was replaced in
Hazards by Elsie Mcleod, Anna Q. Nilsson, and, finally, Helen Gibson, the latter becoming almost as
popular in the role as Helen herself. Unlike Kalem, Signal Films produced true action serials
complete with cliffhanger endings and with titles such as The Railroad Raiders (1917) and The Lost
Express (1917). The company also produced such melodramas as Judith of the Cumberlands (1916)
and The Diamond Runners (1916) but the collapse of Mutual in 1918 also brought down Signal.
Holmes and McGowan went on to produce serials for SLK Serial Corp. and Warner Bros. and turned
increasingly from railroad to straight Western melodramas. They continued to collaborate on
B-movies past their divorce in 1925 but Holmes' screen career came to a close in 1926, when she took
her second husband, stunt man Lloyd Saunders. Several of her later efforts, including the 1926
railroad melodrama Crossed Signals, have survived to reveal a visibly aged but still athletic and
seemingly indomitable risk-taker.

Helen Holmes attempted a comeback in the 1930s but there were few takers and she concentrated
instead on the training of animals for screen work and operating an antique store. She was all but
forgotten by the industry she had helped create when succumbing to a heart attack in July of 1950,
her old friend and Hazard replacement Helen Gibson at her bedside. The Helen Holmes of serial
fame should not be confused with a Broadway comedienne of the same name who appeared in the
1942 Tim Holt Western Dude Ranch.

Biography by Hans J. Wollstein, AllMovie.com