Gene Gauntier

Bisplinghoff, Gretchen

During the years 1907-1912, Gene Gauntier, the first “Kalem Girl,” was the preeminent figure at the Kalem Film Manufacturing Company. She played key roles in the events that comprise established film history. She wrote the scenario for Ben Hur (1907), the work involved in the controversy that established the first copyright laws covering motion pictures, and wrote and acted in key films. In addition, she acted in the Nan, the Confederate Spy series: The Girl Spy (1909), The Girl Spy Before Vicksburg (1910), The Further Adventures of the Girl Spy (1910), cross-dressing forerunners of the serial action queens. She appeared in The Lad From Old Ireland (1910), the first film shot on location outside of the United States, and in From the Manger to the Cross (1912), the first feature-length treatment of the life of Christ. The Kalem Company was the first to make fiction motion pictures on location around the world, which has meant that 35mm film prints and other documents may have been deposited in archives outside the United States, the best example of which is the Irish Film Archives in Dublin, where one extant Gene Gauntier Feature Players title and five Kalem titles are archived (Condon 2008).


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Women Film Pioneers Project
Published Here
October 15, 2019


Minor update to profile made on August 25, 2022.