Agnes Adele Wangenheim was born in Sydney in 1872. At the age of eighteen, she married Barney Kurtz, but divorced him not long after. She was Agnes Kurtz on the first of October 1898, when she married Sydney-born stage actor John Francis Henry Gavin, then twenty-three years old. They were a striking pair: John, tall and dark, bluff and hearty, with a broad smile; Agnes smaller, attractive, with a clear, olive complexion and bright, dark eyes. Together they worked as actors in the Bland Holt stage company and in vaudeville for many years before entering motion pictures together in H.A. Forsyth’s 1910 production of Thunderbolt in which John played the title character and Agnes may have played a gypsy. The Gavins were not unusual for their time, working as a partnership, but with the husband in the more public and visible role. On Forsyth’s next film, Moonlite (1910), John moved into direction while Agnes played the aboriginal girl Bunda in blackface. John then directed several films in 1911 for Crick and Finlay (Ben Hall and His Gang; Frank Gardiner, King of the Road; The Assigned Servant; Keane of Kalgoorlie) and followed Stanley Crick into the Australian Photo-Play Company, directing The Mark of the Lash (1911). He then branched out on his own, forming John F. Gavin Productions, which produced two further films in 1911: The Drover’s Sweetheart and Assigned to his Wife.
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