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Frank Powell

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Frank E Powell was a stage and silent film actor, screenwriter, and director in the United States He was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


  • 1 Biography
  • 2 Selected filmography
    • 21 Director
    • 22 Screenwriter
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


Starting as a stage director for Augustus Thomas, Frank Powell later joined playwright Kirk LaShelle, and afterwards for some years directed productions in Europe for Ellen Terry1 He returned to America and made his Broadway theatre debut in 1904 and began his career in film in 1909 as an actor and scriptwriter at Biograph Studios There, he also co-directed his first film with DW Griffith and demonstrated an adeptness at directing Biograph-style comedies1

After directing sixty-three short films for Biograph, Powell returned to Europe in 1914 and joined Pathé Frères as a producer of historical and romantic dramas1 Ill health necessitated his resting for a while but he used the opportunity to travel around Europe, studying costumes and types1 On his return from Europe, he was engaged by the Powers Motion Picture Company, and after being with them for some time, rejoined Pathé as a director of Special Features1 Later he was freelancing, directing the first film made by the George Kleine film production company Hired by William Fox, he made a number of films for Fox Film Corporation then became part of the World Film Corporation studios

In 1914, the film The Taint required buying a steam-engine and then destroying it in a staged derailment The stunt did not go as planned and the train overturned close to the actors who could have been killed No one was hurt however2

Powell is best remembered for discovering Theda Bara,3 directing her in A Fool There Was 1915, the film that made her an international star and gave her the nickname "The Vamp" A year earlier, he directed Bara in her onscreen debut, The Stain He also directed Mary Pickford in sixteen films, as well as other early stars such as Florence Lawrence, Robert Harron, Kate Bruce, Blanche Sweet, Donald Crisp, Henry B Walthall, and Mabel Normand

In late 1916 he set up his own production company Frank Powell Productions Inc One of his films Charity 1916, billed as a "sociological photo-drama" was a purported exposé of appalling conditions in New York orphanages After being screened to a private audience who were appalled at the exaggerations in it, the studio decided to make changes At the time, the Governor of New York, Charles S Whitman, had commissioned a report on the conditions in private child-caring institutions and the film would seem to have been an opportunity to cash in on public concern4

In the early 1920s, Powell wrote a number of scripts for British films Powell directed his last film for Mack Sennett Comedies in 1921

Selected filmographyedit

Advertisement 1916


  • The Kid 1910
  • Jane Shore 1911
  • Puppets of Fate 1912
  • His Last Dollar 1914
  • Officer 666 1914
  • The Stain 1914
  • The Taint 1914
  • Children of the Ghetto 1915
  • The Devil's Daughter 1915
  • A Fool There Was 1915
  • From the Valley of the Missing 1915
  • Princess Romanoff 1915
  • A Woman's Past 1915
  • Charity 1916
  • The Chain Invisible 1916
  • The Fourth Estate 1916
  • The Scarlet Oath 1916
  • The Witch 1916
  • Mary Moreland 1917
  • The Dazzling Miss Davison 1917
  • The Final Payment 1917
  • The Mirror 1917
  • Hedda Gabler 1917
  • The Debt 1917
  • Mrs Balfame 1917
  • Motherhood 1917
  • Heart of the Sunset 1918
  • You Never Know Your Luck 1919
  • The Unbroken Promise 1919
  • The Forfeit 1919


  • Everybody's Business 1917
  • Enchantment 1920
  • A Soul's Awakening 1922

See alsoedit

  • Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood


  1. ^ a b c d e Robert Grau 1914 The Theatre of Science, The Broadway Publishing Company
  2. ^ Popular Electricity and Modern Mechanics Vol29 No1 July 1914 Modern Publishing Co
  3. ^ Daniel Talbot 1975 Film: An Anthology, University of California Press
  4. ^ The Survey Vol37 1917, Survey Associates Inc, New York

External linksedit

  • Frank Powell on Internet Movie Database
  • Frank Powell at the Internet Broadway Database

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