A German-born, Pennsylvania-educated stage actor, John Steppling had appeared opposite E.H. Sothern in The Prisoner of Zenda, Olga Nethersole in Sappho, and William Gillette in Secret Service, all very successful plays that ran for years. The dark-haired actor reportedly began his long screen career with Essanay in Chicago in 1912 and by 1915 he was appearing opposite Carol Holloway in Billy Van Deusen comedies for the American company in Santa Barbara, CA. While with American, Steppling played perhaps his best known role, that of Senator Locke, whose daughter is infected with syphilis in Damaged Goods, a heartfelt if rather sensationalist melodrama produced by its star, Richard Bennett. Extremely busy in the 1920s as well, Steppling retired due to illness shortly before sound. His relationship, if any, to the later screenwriter of the same name has not been established.