Wild Women Of The West: Olive Fuller Golden

olive fuller golden cowgirl magazine

When the five-reel Western drama A Knight of the Range premiered in early 1916, critics praised silent film cowboy and cowgirl actors Harry D. Carey and Olive Fuller Golden performances.  Audiences were dazzled by the equestrian feats never-before seen in a motion picture.  “Stunts that are inconceivable of execution are performed before the all-seeing eye of the camera,” a review of the film in a Hollywood magazine read.  “Lovers of riding will miss the treat of their lifetime if they fail to see Western stars Carey and Golden work their magic on horseback.  Golden is one of the prettiest and most popular of film favorites.  Her long golden curls droop over her shoulders and her bewitching smile is as golden as an Arizona sunset; golden also is her disposition.  She will be a star as long as motion pictures are being made.”    

Olive Fuller Golden was a rodeo performer who got her start in film in 1914 in a picture called A Sorrowful Shore.  Born on January 31, 1896, she came from a performing family headed by her father, famed vaudeville entertainer George Fuller Golden.  She traveled to Hollywood from New York in 1913 where she became an original stock player for director D. W. Griffith – along with Mary Pickford, Lillian and Dorothy Gish, and Harry Carey.   She starred opposite Harry Carey in her first film and the pair married two years after A Sorrowful Shore premiered.  

In 1916, Olive signed a contract with Universal, where legend has it, she introduced her husband to John Ford and helped convince the studio executives to let Ford direct pictures.  Until that time Ford had been a stuntman and assistant director.  She acted in John Ford’s film The Soul Herder in 1917.  She then retired from films and helped manage Harry’s career and raised a family.  Shortly after her husband’s death in 1947, Olive decided to come out retirement.  She appeared in a number of movies including Gunfight at the O. K. Corral, The Wings of Eagles, and Two Rode Together.  The most memorable film in which Olive appeared was Ford’s The Searchers in which she played the mother of Vera Miles and her real-life son, Harry Carey, Jr.  

Olive died in March 1988 at the age of ninety-two.