D.W. Griffith, 73, film pioneer, dies

By United Press

HOLLYWOOD -- Pioneer film director David Wark Griffith, 73, whose "Birth of a Nation" lifted the movie industry out of the nickelodeon stage, died today of a brain hemorrhage at Temple Hospital. He was stricken in his hotel room yesterday, paralyzed from a hemorrhage on the left side of his brain.

Griffith discovered such film stars as Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Mary Pickford, Norma Talmadge, Richard Barthelmess and the Gish sisters. For much of the past 20 years he was in retirement.


Entering the film industry in 1908 after brief careers In Journalism and on the stage, Griffith produced the movies' first epic and revolutionized screen technique. He made films longer than one reel, and originated the "flash-back,'' the "close-up," "mist-photography" and the "fade out."

"Birth ot a Nation," perhaps the most famous silent picture ever made, was directed by Griffith In 1915. Seats sold for $1 when the film toured the country. The picture grossed $3,500,000 exceeded only by four other pictures in the next 20 years. It is still being shown.

Mae Marsh the "little sister," Henry B. Walthall, the "little Confederate colonel," Lillian Gish and Wallace Reid rode to fame in the picture which depicted the strife in the Scoth after the Civil War.


Griffith's second wife, Evelyn Baldwin Griffith, 40 years younger than he, divorced Griffith last November, claiming he was a bachelor at heart. They were married in 1936. His first wife was Actress Linda Arvidson, and they were divorced in 1936 after 25 years of marriage.

"D. W.," as he was known' in the movie Industry, was born In La Grange, Ky. He worked, on his brother's newspaper in Kentucky, then became police reporter for the Louisville Courier -Journal. He also wrote theatrical notes, and left newspaper work to become a dramatist.

At Chicago in 1907 Griffith saw his first motion picture. He was impressed by the long lines awaiting admission.

A friend, Frank Marion, owned stock in the old Biograph Co., and he sent Griffith there. His scenarios aroused little interest, but Griffith was hired by Biograph as an actor at $5 a day.

In June, 1908, he became an assistant director and began his rapid rise In the industry.

In 1919 Griffith, Miss, Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Fairbanks founded the United Artists Corp. He sold his interest In 1933.

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