Thursday, May 30, 2019

Peggy Stewart Passes On

Peggy Stewart, who starred in a number of B-Westerns and made numerous guest appearances on television, died yesterday, May 29 2019, at the age of 95.

Peggy Stewart was born Margaret "Peggy" O'Rourke in West Palm Beach, Florida on June 5 1923. Her sister was Olympic swimmer Patricia O'Rourke. Her parents eventually divorced and her mother moved the family to Atlanta, Georgia. There she married lawyer John Stewart. Young Peggy took her stepfather's last name. It was in the Thirties that her family moved to California. There she met character actor Henry O'Neil. Mr. O'Neil brought her to the attention of Paramount executives who wanted a young actress to play Joel McCrea's daughter in the movie Wells Fargo (1937). In the film she played the role of Alice McKay.

In the late Thirties Miss Stewart appeared in such films as Little Tough Guy (1938), That Certain Age (1938), Little Tough Guys in Society (1938), Everybody's Hobby (1939), and All This, and Heaven Too (1940). In the early Forties she appeared in such films as Back Street (1941) and Girl in Chains (1943). It was in 1944 that Peggy Stewart signed a contract with Republic Pictures, who cast her in a number of B Westerns. She appeared in such films as Tuscon Raiders (1944), Silver City Kid (1944), Cheyenne Wildcat (1944), Code of the Prairie (1944), Utah (1945), The Vampire's Ghost (1945), Marshall of Laredo (1945), The Tiger Woman (1945), Alias Billy the Kid (1946), Red River Renegades (1946), The Invisible Informer (1946), Trail to San Antone (1947), Messenger of Peace (1947), Son of Zorro (1947), Tex Granger: Midnight Rider of the Plains (1948), Dead Man's Gold (1948), Ride, Ryder, Ride! (1949), The Fighting Redhead (1949), and Cody of the Pony Express (1950). She appeared in three "Red Ryder" movies alone. She made her television debut in 1950 in an episode of The Gene Autry Show.

As B-Westerns became a thing of the past, Peggy Stewart's film career slowed down. In the Fifties she only appeared in four films: The Pride of Maryland (1951), The Black Lash (1952), Kansas Territory (1952), and Montana Incident (1952). While her movie career slowed, Miss Stewart's television career prospered in the Fifties. She appeared in five episodes of The Cisco Kid alone. Miss Stewart guest starred on such shows as Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (1951), Gang Busters (1952), The Range Rider (1953), The Millionaire (1956), Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal (1956), The Silent Service, Peter Gunn, Yancy Derrigner, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Hotel de Paree, General Electric Theatre, Gunsmoke, and  Pony Express.

In the Sixties Peggy Stewart guest starred on such shows as The Rebel, Lassie, The Twilight Zone, National Velvet, Have Gun--Will Travel, The Fugitive, Gunsmoke, Daniel Boone, Hondo, The Mod Squad, and Ironside. She appeared in the films When the Clock Strikes (1961), Gun Street (1961), The Clown and the Kid (1961), The Way West (1967), and The Animals (1960).

In the Seventies Miss Stewart guest starred in such shows as Dan August, Sarge, The Smith Family, The Bold Ones: The New Doctors, Baretta, Emergency!, Taxi, and Quincy M.E. She appeared in the films Pickup on 101 (1972), Terror in the Wax Museum (1973), White House Madness (1975), Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976), Black Oak Conspiracy (1977), and Beyond Evil (1980).

In the Nineties Peggy Stewart guest starred on Seinfeld and Beverly Hills 90120. In the Naughts she had a recurring role on the TV show The Riches. She guest starred on such shows as The Norm Show; Popular; Yes, Dear; My Name is Earl; NCIS; Weeds; Flashforward; Justified; The Office; and Community. She appeared in the films Big Chuck, Little Chuck (2004) and The Runaways (2010). In the Teens Miss Stewart guest starred on the TV show Getting On. She appeared in the films Dadgum, Texas and That's My Boy.

Peggy Stewart was always a delight to see on screen. In her many B Westerns she usually did not play the passive damsel in distress in constant need of rescue, but instead the tough, strong-willed, and hot-tempered heroine who could hold her own with any outlaw. It was a role she would sometimes repeat on television, in Westerns from The Cisco Kid to Have Gun--Will Travel. Of course, Miss Stewart could play other types of roles. In the Twilight Zone she played Grace Stockton, the wife of Dr. Bill Stockton, who is quite naturally nervous about an imminent nuclear war. As she grew older she was often cast in the role of sweet old ladies. Peggy Stewart will always be remembered as strong heroines in B Westerns, but she played all of her various roles very well.

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