June 17, 2015

Mona Darkfeather, silent film actress

Mona Darkfeather was born as Josephine M. Workman on January 13, 1883, in Boyle Heights, California. Her father was Joseph Manuel Workman and her mother was Josephine Mary Belt. In 1909 she responded to an advertisement by Bison Motion Pictures for an “exotic looking girl” to play an indian princess in a Silent Movie.  She got the part and starred in a silent movie.

 Mona Darkfeather (born Josephine M. Workman) January 13, 1883 – September 3, 1977(1977-09-03)

She was not born as a Native American.

Picture of Mona DarkfeatherDarkfeather’s early publicity claimed she was a full-blooded Blackfoot Indian. Though she freely admitted in interviews that she was not of Indian ancestry, she said she was an Indian Princess, that she had been made a blood member of the Blackfoot Nation and given the title of princess by Chief Big Thunder. So successful was the studio’s promotion of Princess Mona Darkfeather that over the years, and even in 2005, she has been frequently referred to as an American Indian actress.

Some of the movies she played in were:

A White Indian (1912)
A Blackfoot’s Conspiracy (1912)
The Massacre of the Fourth Cavalry (1912)
A Forest Romance (1913)
For the Peace of Bear Valley (1913)
Justice of the Wild (1913)The Hidden Danger (1917) – Her last movie
These are a few of the 102 movies in which she starred.

Family of Mona Darkfeather

Mona’s father, Joseph Manuel Workman, was born in 1833 and died in 1901.  Her mother, Josephine Mary Belt, was born in 1851 and died in 1937.  She had the following brothers and sisters:
Mary Cristina Workman (1870–1963)
Agnes Elizabeth Workman (1872–1957)
Marie Lucile “Lucy” Workman (1875–1944)
William Joseph Workman (1877–1956)
George D. Workman (1879–1903)
Nellie Workman (1886–1888)
Mona’s grandfather was William Workman (1799–1876).
In 1912, Mona married her director, Frank Montgomery (born as Frank Akley).  They lived together until 1928 at which time, they were divorced.
In 1928, Mona married Alfred G. Wessling (1869–1941).  In 1935, she and Alfred were divorced.
On December 23, 1937, Mona remarried Frank Montgomery and they remained married until Frank died in 1944.
On September 3, 1977, Mona Darkfeather died at age 94 from a stroke, due to cerebral atherosclerosis, at a convalescent center on South Crenshaw Boulevard, Los Angeles. She is interred in section K, lot 116, grave 7, in an unmarked grave, in the Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California, under the name Josephine Akley.
Native Actors & Movies
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