With four starring serials (and two in supporting roles) to her credit, as well as a string of B-Westerns with the likes of Hoot Gibson and Jack Hoxie, brunette Dorothy Gulliver was an action heroine of some stature in the early days of sound. Yet she is remembered solely for The Collegians, a series of two-reel comedies produced by Universal (who also cast her in a 1929 feature version entitled College Love and voted her a 1928 WAMPAS Baby Star) and as a blowsy harridan in John Cassavetes' Faces (released 1968). This last comeback stunned Hollywood and there were whispers of a possible Academy Award. Alas, it was to be her final film. Gulliver is often credited with appearing as an old lady on a bus in the ill-fated Won Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976), but always vehemently denied any participation in the film.
A former Miss Salt Lake City, Dorothy Gulliver was ready to sign with Paramount when she won another contest, this time conducted by Universal, who sent her to Hollywood. She starred opposite George J. Lewis and Eddie Phillips in all 44 installments of The Collegians (1926-1929), set at imaginary Calford College and did yeoman duty opposite the established serial team of William Desmond and Eileen Sedgwick in both The Winking Idol (1926) and Strings of Steel (1926). She became a serial star in her own right five years later but not at Universal, who had dismissed her along with most of their B-Western units at the changeover to sound.
Picked up by low-budget Mascot Pictures, Gulliver played Tom Tyler's leading lady in the ten-chapter Phantom of the West (1931) and immediately established her potential as a latter-day serial queen. The Galloping Ghost (1931) with sports hero Harold "Red" Grange and The Shadow of the Eagle (1932), with John Wayne, followed and she co-starred opposite Lon Chaney Jr. (known at the time as Creighton Chaney) in RKO's sole attempt at serial making, The Last Frontier (1932).
A non-movie-involved accident curtailed this long string of action successes and when she returned it was in independently produced fare, such as Fighting Caballero (1935) with Rex Lease and Custer's Last Stand (1935), from ultra low-budget Stage and Screen, and her final chapterplay. She would do the odd B-movie until 1942, but then concentrated on her marriage to publicist Jack Proctor. (A previous union, with assistant director Chester De Vito, had ended in divorce.) Gulliver reportedly appeared in summer stock in Laguna, CA, but she was all but forgotten when Cassavetes surprisingly chose her to play a middle-aged woman picking up young hustlers in Faces. Cassavates' slow, methodic way of filming astonished the veteran B-movie performer, who also got a kick out of appearing opposite such modern method actors as Gena Rowlands and John Marley. "They were all such fine actors," she told the Los Angeles Times, "but I admit I was amazed when this actress asked 'What is my motivation for going to the phone?'"