1880 – 1924
Who was Thomas Ince?
Thomas Harper Ince was born to English immigrant parents. In 1887 the family moved to Manhatten, to pursue theatre work. Ince made his Broadway debut at 15 in a small role of a revival 1893 play, Shore Acres by James A. Herne.
Ince's directing career began in 1910 through a chance encounter in New York City with an employee from his old acting troupe, William S. Hart. Ince found his first film work as an actor for the Biograph Company, directed by his future partner, D.W. Griffith. Griffith was impressed enough with Ince to hire him as a Production coordinator at Biograph. This led to more work coordinating productions at Carl Laemmle's Independent Motion Pictures Co. (IMP). That same year, a director at IMP was unable to complete work on a small feature film, so in moment of bravado, Ince suggested to IMP's owner Laemmle of hiring him as a full-time director to complete the film. Impressed with the young man, Laemmle sent him to Cuba to make one-reel shorts with his new stars, Mary Pickford and Owen Moore. Film making soon moved to Hollywood and Ince and his wife moved with it. By 1915, Ince was considered one of the best-known producer-directors.
After making more than 800 films, Thomas Ince was known as the “Father of the Western.” He was reported to have died from heart failure in 1924 at the age of 44, but many suspect that’s not the whole story. The initially reported story is that Ince was aboard media tycoon William Randolph Hearst’s yacht when he became gravely ill. Ince’s wife, son, and doctor all confirmed that heart disease was the culprit.
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