Texas Guinan (Mary Louise Cecelia Guinan) was a popular cowgirl star from 1918-1923, who grew up on a ranch near Waco, Texas. Before graduating from high school, she received a scholarship from the Chicago Conservatory of Music. After she acquired a degree in music and art, she moved to Denver and helped her father on his new ranch. During her time in the Rocky Mountains, she competed in numerous rodeos. In 1911, she won the World’s Championship Bronco Riding title at the Cheyenne Roundup. After working for the Miller Brothers’ 101 Ranch, she landed the lead role in the two-reeler picture The Gun Woman. Advertisements for the film read: “Never Jilt a Woman Who Can Shoot.” She continued working in film, often billed as “The Female William Hart” or the “two-gun tigress,” and believed herself to be the equal of any ‘tobacco-chewin’ cowpoke.”
In 1921, Guinan organized her own Texas Guinan Productions and produced and starred in a number of Western shorts. “I had twelve real cowboys, a scenario writer (Mildred Sledge), a cameraman, a carload of cartridges, my horse ‘Waco’ from Texas, and went to work. We made a picture a week,” she remembered years later. “We never changed plots, only horses.”
After doing her own stunts in 300 movies, Guinan moved to New York City in 1924, where she donned female attire, ran speakeasies, and was arrested forty-nine times. Her nightclub attracted a clientele that ran from $100 tippers from Wall Street to cowboys from far away, anxious to meet the vivacious cowgirl. Her nightclub was raided ten times in five years by police and the men she called “Uncle Sammy’s dripping dry boys.” The most she ever spent in prison for selling liquor was a few hours. Her lawyers always quickly got her out on bail.
The climax of this phase of her life came in April 1929, when she was acquitted in Federal Court in New York of a charge of maintaining a nuisance at her club the Salon Royale. The government insisted she was one of the biggest sellers of liquor in the area. The trial was a sensation. One prohibition agent related that he took his wife a dozen times to the nightclub, paid $20 a quart for liquor, $25 for champagne, and saw waiters slipping bottles wrapped in napkins into the laps of patrons, some of whom had to be helped to the street.
None of the agents, however, linked Texas Guinan directly to any liquor selling and from the witness stand she told the court she never drank liquor nor sold it. The jury believed her and ruled to acquit.
In 1931, with an expeditionary force of dancing girls, Broadway cowboys and musicians, she embarked on a round-the-world tour. She returned to the Unites States an international star.
Texas was married three times. With the exception of her first husband, Jack Moynanhan, a newspaper man, whom she married in 1912, she rarely mentioned her ex-husbands. She died of colitis on November 5, 1933. “When I go,” she once told a friend, “I want my funeral to be the speediest ever given with a cop on a motorcycle ahead, a wake for me in a night club and a bunch of college boys singing college songs loud as they can while they lower my coffin.” The cowgirl actress was laid to rest at the Calvary Cemetery in Queens County, New York. She was forty-nine years old.