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For the African-American actor of the same name, see Rex Ingram (actor) (1895 – 1969).
Rex Ingram
Born Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock
January 15, 1892(1892-01-15)
Dublin, Ireland
Died July 21, 1950 (aged 58)
North Hollywood, California
Spouse(s) Doris Pawn (m.1917)
Alice Terry (1921-1950)

Rex Ingram (15 January 1892 – 21 July 1950) was a film director, producer, writer and actor. Legendary director Erich von Stroheim once called him "the world's greatest director."[1]

Contents

Early life

Born Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock in Dublin, Ireland, the son of a clergyman.[2] He was educated at Saint Columba's College, near Rathfarnam, County Dublin.[2] He spent most of his adolescent life living in the Old Rectory, Kinnity, Birr, County Offaly where his father was the Church of Ireland rector.[2] He emigrated to the United States in 1911.[2] His brother Francis Clere Hitchcock went on to join the British army and fought during World War I where he was awarded the Military Cross and rose to the rank of Colonel.

Career

Ingram studied sculpture at the Yale University School of Art, but soon moved into film, first taking acting work from 1913 and then writing, producing and directing.[2] His first work as producer-director was in 1916 on the romantic drama The Great Problem.[2] He worked for Edison Studios, Fox Film Corporation, Vitagraph Studios, and then MGM, directing mainly action or supernatural films.[2] In 1920 he moved to Metro, where he was under supervision of executive June Mathis. Mathis and Ingram would go on to make 4 films together, "Hearts are Trump", "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse", "The Conquering Power", and "Turn to the Right". It is believed the two held a romantic relationship which ended when Ingram eloped with Alice Terry in 1921. Ingram and Mathis had begun to grow distant when her new find, Rudolph Valentino began to overshadow his own fame.

Jackie Coogan "Nazimova" (actress) Gloria Swanson Hollywood Boulevard Picture taken in 1907 of this junction Harold Lloyd Will Rogers Elinor Glyn (Writer) "Buster" Keaton William S. Hart (Two-Gun Bill) Rupert Hughes (Novelist) Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle Wallace Reid Douglas Fairbanks Bebe Daniels "Bull" Montana Rex Ingram Peter the hermit Charlie Chaplin Alice Terry (Actress) Mary Pickford William C. DeMille Cecil Blount DeMille Use button to enlarge or cursor to investigate
This 1921 Vanity Fair caricature by Ralph Barton shows the famous people who, he imagined, left work each day in Hollywood; use cursor to identify individual figures.

He married twice, first to actress Doris Pawn in 1917; this ended in divorce in 1920.[2] He then married Alice Terry in 1921 with whom he remained for the rest of his life. In 1925, Ingram and Fred Niblo directed the hugely successful epic Ben-Hur, filming parts of it in Italy. He and his wife decided to move to the French Riviera. They formed a small studio in Nice and made several films on location in North Africa, Spain, and Italy for MGM and others.[3]

Amongst others to work for Ingram at MGM on the Riviera during this period was the young Michael Powell, who later went on to direct (with Emeric Pressburger) The Red Shoes and other classics. By Powell's own account, Ingram was a major influence on him.[2] Indeed Ingram's influence on Powell's later work can be detected, especially in its themes in illusion, dreaming, magic and the surreal. David Lean also admitted he was deeply indebted to Ingram,[2] and MGM studio chief Dore Schary once listed the top creative people in Hollywood as D. W. Griffith, Rex Ingram, Cecil B. DeMille, and Erich von Stroheim (in declining order of importance).[2]

Unimpressed with sound, Rex Ingram made only one talkie, Baroud, filmed for Gaumont British Pictures in Morocco. The film was a not a commercial success and Ingram left the film business, returning to Los Angeles to work as a sculptor and writer. Interested in Islam as early as 1927,[4] he converted to the faith in 1933.[5]

Rex Ingram's films were considered by many contemporary directors to be artistic and skillful, with an imaginative and bold visual style. In 1949, the Directors Guild of America bestowed an Honorary Life Membership on him. For his contribution to the motion picture industry he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1651 Vine Street.

He also wrote two novels, Mars in the House of Death and The Legion Advances.

Death

Rex Ingram died in 1950 and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.[6]

Filmography

References

  1. ^ Soares, André. Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro. New York: Macmillan, 2002, p. 27. ISBN 0312282311
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Soares, André. Beyond Paradise: The Life of Ramon Novarro. New York: Macmillan, 2002. ISBN 0312282311
  3. ^ "New British Film Company; Alastair Mackintosh Leads London Firm--Rex Ingram Is Director." New York Times. May 8, 1928.
  4. ^ "Reports Rex Ingram Has Turned Moslem." New York Times. December 1, 1927.
  5. ^ "Rex Ingram Embracing Mohammedan Faith; Announces Abandoning Motion-Picture Field." New York Times. July 2, 1933.
  6. ^ "Rex Ingram Dead." New York Times. July 23, 1950.

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