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(From Old Corral collection)
Peggy Stewart

1923 - 2019

Real name:
Margaret O'Rourke

(Courtesy of Ted Osborn)

Above is the gang facing Sunset Carson in ALIAS BILLY THE KID (Republic, 1946). From L-to-R in the above lobby card are Tom London, Peggy Stewart, Russ Whiteman and bearded Tex Terry.

Margaret O'Rourke was born in West Palm Beach, Florida in 1923 to John and Frances O'Rourke. After a divorce, her mother moved the family to Atlanta, and she married John Stewart, a lawyer. It was then that Peggy began using the last name of Stewart.

Peggy wound up in California in the 1930s, and an early movie role was playing the teenage daughter of Joel McCrea in WELLS FARGO (1936).

On September 7, 1940, she married Republic Pictures western hero Don "Red" Barry, and son Michael was born November 18, 1943. The marriage was short-lived and the divorce of Peggy and Don Barry was finalized on April 12, 1944.

By the mid 1940s, Peggy Stewart was the resident heroine at Republic to cowboy stars Wild Bill Elliott, Sunset Carson, Allan Lane, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. She was under a term players contract(s) at Republic from April, 1944 through March, 1947 - this simply meant that for security and a regular paycheck, Republic could utilize her as much as they wanted. From 1944 - 1951, she appeared in about 35 films at Republic, most of which were serials and westerns.

After her Republic contract ended, Peggy did leading lady duty in oaters with Charles Starrett, Lash LaRue, Whip Wilson, and Jim Bannon.

And she also did cliffhangers - she had the female lead in THE PHANTOM RIDER (Republic, 1945), SON OF ZORRO (Republic, 1947), TEX GRANGER (Columbia, 1948), and CODY OF THE PONY EXPRESS (Columbia, 1949).

In the 1950s and later, Peggy worked on many TV programs including CISCO KID, HAVE GUN - WILL TRAVEL, WILD BILL HICKOK, and GUNSMOKE. Western and serial fan Mark Tourin spotted Peggy in a Seinfeld episode. According to IMDb she appeared as 'Aunt May' in an episode titled 'The Implant', which was first aired in 1990. Mark remembers her doing a great job 'playing it straight' as the aunt of the temporary girl friend of George Costanza at a wake, of all things.

In 1953, Peggy married actor Buck Young (1920 - 2000), and they had two children, Greg and Abigail. Buck Young did many TV jobs, including a role as "Sergeant Whipple" in the mid 1960s Gomer Pyle show.

Peggy was honored with a Golden Boot Award at the 1984 ceremonies. And fans appreciated her smile and bubbly personality when she guested at many western film / nostalgia conventions.

Peggy's sister, Olympic swimmer Patricia O'Rourke, was married to World War II Navy flier / hero Wayne Morris, who did many films for Warners as well as a series of westerns in the 1950s for Monogram / Allied Artists.

When I was growing up in Georgia during the early 1950s, I recall that westerns were among the first films released to TV. Republic Pictures had their Hollywood Television Service releasing arm, and among the movies on the little screen were the Bill Elliott / Red Ryder adventures ... and Peggy Stewart was in a lot of those. I was pleasantly surprised that she frequently played a savvy, smart and tough heroine who often was hot-tempered ... she was definitely NOT the passive leading lady that was typical in the low budget western.

95 year old Peggy Stewart passed away on May 29, 2019.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has information on Peggy Stewart:

Daniel Neyer's "The Files of Jerry Blake" serial website has more on Peggy's four cliffhangers:

Long time ago, Sunset Carson and Jerry Whittington were developing a series called "Sunset Carson's Hollywood Nostalgia Theater". Here's Sunset's interviews with Peggy Stewart:
Peggy Stewart interview (about 7 minutes long):
Peggy Stewart Interview (about 8 minutes long):

Death notices:
Hollywood Reporter website:
Santa Clarita Valley Signal newspaper:
The Life & Times of Hollywood website:

Family Search has the September 7, 1940 Los Angeles marriage license of 30 year old Donald Barry (born Houston, Texas) and 17 year old Peggy Stewart (born West Palm Beach, Florida). First marriage for both, and their occupations were Actor and Actress. His parents were Louis Acosta (born Lafayette, Louisiana) and Emma Murray (born Houston, Texas). Her parents were John P. Stewart (born Georgia) and Frances McCampbell (born Alabama). Republic Pictures director George Sherman was the witness:

Family Search also has the California Birth Index for the son of Don Barry and Peggy Stewart - Michael Orourke Barry Deacosta was born November 18, 1943 in the Los Angeles area:

(From Old Corral collection)
Peggy with Sunset Carson

(From Old Corral collection)
Peggy with Gene Autry

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Left is a blurb about Don Barry's marriage to Republic heroine Peggy Stewart, and director Georgie Sherman was their best man. From the pressbook for Barry's THE PHANTOM COWBOY (Republic, 1941) which was released in early 1941. The pairing was short-lived and trade publications had coverage:

  • September 11, 1940 Variety had a marriage announcement: "Peggy Stewart to Donald Barry, in Glendale, Cal., Sept. 7 (1940)."
  • November 24, 1943 Variety had a birth announcement: "Mr. and Mrs. Don Barry, son, Hollywood, Nov. 18 (1943). Father is cowboy star at Republic; mother was Peggy Stewart of the films."
  • May 27, 1944 Billboard had the divorce announcement: "Peggy Stewart, actress from Donald Barry, cowboy actor, in Hollywood April 12 (1944)."

(From Old Corral collection)

Above from right to left are Bill Elliott, Alice Fleming, Peggy Stewart and Bob Steele (as the "Reno Kid") in the Red Ryder adventure SHERIFF OF REDWOOD VALLEY (Republic, 1946).

(From Old Corral collection)

From L-to-R are Tom London, Allan Lane with Peggy Stewart in his arms, whiskered Emmett Lynn, Pierce Lyden, and in the front is Bobby Blake as Little Beaver. Lobby card from RUSTLERS OF DEVIL'S CANYON (Republic, 1947), one of the Red Ryder adventures. Did I mention that Peggy wasn't the typical passive heroine?

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

In the above lobby card from THE FIGHTING REDHEAD (Eagle Lion, 1950) are Jim Bannon (as Red Ryder) and Peggy Stewart, the heroine in many great Republic westerns. Peggy was the leading lady in two of the four Bannon / Red Ryder adventures. Does the guy on the left look familiar? Think the LONE RANGER TV show ... and John Hart who played the masked man for one season.

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above are Jim Bannon (as Red Ryder) and Peggy Stewart in a lobby card from RIDE, RYDER, RIDE (Eagle Lion, 1949).

(From Old Corral collection)

Above - Wild Bill Elliott is re-united with Republic leading lady Peggy Stewart in KANSAS TERRITORY (Monogram, 1952), one of Elliott's best from his post Republic days. He's back wearing a brace of stag-handled six shooters. Note the "Filmed in Glorious SEPIA TONE" blurb on this lobby card.

(Courtesy of Minard Coons)

Above - a 1970s photo of Peggy Stewart, great heroine and love interest in many Republic horse operas.  Minard Coons mentioned that Peggy resided in Studio City, California, a couple of blocks from where I. Stanford Jolley lived.

(Courtesy of Larry Blanks)

Above - Larry Blanks with Republic leading lady, Peggy Stewart, circa 1992? at one of the annual film/nostalgia conventions in Atlanta.

(Courtesy of Donn & Nancy Moyer)

Above - Republic heroine Peggy Stewart and Donn Moyer at the 2000 Lone Pine Festival.

(Courtesy of Virginia Herrick & Dick Madigan)

Above are Peggy Stewart and Virginia Herrick guesting at the 2002 Charlotte Western Film Fair.

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