A former leading man of the Whitney Opera Co., handsome, athletic William Stowell became a star with the Chicago-based Selig Polyscope Company in 1909. One of the early silent era's busiest actors, Stowell later defected from Selig in favor of the American Company of Santa Barbara, CA, where he became a leading man for the likes of Rhea Mitchell and Audrey Munson. After joining Universal in 1917, Stowell was teamed with brunette Dorothy Phillips and together they starred in a series of popular melodramas that included A Doll's House ( with Stowell as Helmer), Broadway Love (1918), and The Right to Happiness (1919). At the height of his popularity, Universal sent Stowell to Africa to film a melodrama on location in the Congo. En route by train from Cape Town, South Africa, Stowell and several members of his crew were killed when a loaded oil tanker crashed into the rear of their car.