Biography

Growing up in Florida, American actress Peggy Stewart naturally gravitated to the water, and distinguished herself as a swimming champ in high school. Her family moved to California in the mid '30s, where she made the acquaintance of character actor Henry O'Neill. Aware that Paramount Pictures was looking for a new face to play the part of Joel McCrea's and Frances Dee's daughter in Wells Fargo (1936), O'Neill recommended Stewart. The assignment led to numerous other roles for the teenaged actress, who by the end of 1940 was not only established in Hollywood but the wife of actor Don "Red" Barry (Stewart was also the sister-in-law of another actor, Wayne Morris). At about the time her marriage was breaking up in 1944, Stewart signed with Republic Studios, where, starting with Tucson Raiders (1944), she became resident leading lady for many of Republic's western stars. She also appeared in serials at Republic but preferred westerns because the shooting schedules were shorter and she was able to wear a more varied wardrobe. Leaving Republic in 1948, she freelanced until 1953, when she briefly gave up acting to become a casting director at NBC television; she also married again, to actor Buck Young. As the '50s progressed Stewart eased back into acting, but only in roles that would provide a challenge to her. In 1974, she won the Los Angeles Drama Circle award for her stage performance in Picnic. Long retired, Peggy Stewart has in the last two decades become one of the favorite guest speakers on the nostalgia convention and western film festival circuit. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi