D.W. Griffith was born and raised in La Grange, Kentucky as the as the youngest child of seven, and his father served as a colonel in the Confederate army. After his failure to sell a script to Edwin S. Porter of Edison Studios under the pseudonym of Lawrence Griffith, Porter hired Griffith to star inRescued from an Eagle’s Nest. Later, he joined Biograph studios where his first film was Judith of Bethulia and later he filmed the first movie in Hollywood, California –In Old California, along with several hundred other short films. When Biograph stopped supporting his film ventures, he formed his own studio in California as Reliance-Majestic Studios, which dissolved after the box-office flop of Intolerance, an epic that was intended to be Griffith’s response to the public outcry against his majestic yet controversial Birth of a Nation. Griffith, along with Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Charlie Chaplin formed United Artists in 1919, a new film studio where the actors and directors had greater and involvement in the films they made. However, Griffith fell into obscurity after his major films were released, including Birth of a Nation, Intolerance, Broken Blossoms, Way Down East, and Orphans of the Storm. Griffith died in 1948 of a cerebral hemorrhage in Los Angeles after making over 500 films in his lifetime. He lived alone at the Knick Hotel where he died forgotten. His Victorian stories grew out of fashion among the younger generation’s demand for talkies. A massive public service was held in his honor at the Hollywood Masonic Temple but very few stars attended.
David Wark Griffith