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Biograph’s Biography

Biograph’s Biography

Articles - Directing

1895 W.K.L. Dickson,
an associate of Thomas Edison, forms the American Mutoscope Company.

1899 American
Mutoscope Company changes its name to the American Mutoscope & Biograph

  • Biograph signs the White House as one of their clients and
    is the first studio to record films of a living president, William
  • W.K.L. Dickson films the first motion picture issues/53/images of the
    Pope at the Vatican.

1902 Biograph films the first
western, one year before Edison Films’ The Great Train Robbery.

1903 Biograph covers the funeral
of assassinated President McKinley.

  • Biograph again signs the White House as a client, this time
    to film Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential appearances.

1906 Biograph shoots the first
films of the great San Francisco earthquake.

  • Florence Lawrence signs with Biograph and
    becomes the world’s first “movie star” by receiving billing
    in a film.
  • Biograph films its first movie in Southern California, A
    Daring Southern California Train Robbery

1908 Biograph hires director
D. W. Griffith.

1910 On a trip to California
to shoot In Old California, Griffith discovers Hollywood,
a nice little village with beautiful flower gardens and friendly
people. Griffith claims the city has a magical energy, and Biograph
returns on several more occasions to shoot other films here. Word
spreads about Hollywood and other film companies begin settling
here. From this humble beginning, the movie capital of the world
is born.

1912 Sisters Lillian and Dorothy
Gish are hired by Biograph and make their first film, An Unseen

1913 Biograph films its first
feature film, Judith of Bethulia, directed by Griffith and
starring Blanche Sweet. The film times in at almost three hours.

  • Mary Pickford makes The New York Hat, which will be
    her last movie for Biograph. The film is written by 13-year old
    Anita Loos, who goes onto become the very well-known writer of
    such films as Intolerance and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
  • Griffith leaves Biograph, taking his stock company with him,
    to pursue feature moviemaking.

1914 Biograph
partners with Klaw & Erlanger to produce plays on film.

1915 Biograph
signs the first African-American producer-director, vaudevillian
Bert Williams, who is given unprecedented control over his films—and
even acts in them. His projects for Biograph include Fish and Natural
Born Gambler

1916 The
Thomas Edison Film mono­poly is broken up by the federal
government, due to violations of the Antitrust Act. Biograph
reissues all of its well-known films to theaters around the world
and ceases work on any new productions.

1929 Biograph is disbanded
because of the Depression.

1930 Blanche Sweet and her
husband, director Harold Nielan, obtain all corporate and company
documents in an effort to re-open Biograph.

1984 Blanche
Sweet gives all company items to Thomas Bond II, hoping that
Biograph can continue after almost 70 years on “hiatus.”

1986 Sweet passes away.

1991 With years of research
and restructuring behind them, Bond and his family reorganize the
company; Biograph is reincorporated in California.

1994 Biograph starts production
on its first film in more than 80 years, a feature comedy entitled Bob’s
Night Out

1996 The Bond family is severely
injured in an auto accident. Production on Bob’s Night Out is
placed on hold indefinitely.

1999 Biograph starts its home
video division with its Little Rascals home video The Silent
, hosted by Bond’s father, Tommy, who played “Butch” in
the original Little Rascals.

2000 Biograph opens its video
production studio in San Diego. The studio functions as the commercial
arm of the company.

  • Biograph discovers the last remaining copy
    of the first movie filmed in Hollywood—In Old California.

2003 Biograph opens its studio
office in Hollywood and headquarters the company there. After 93
years, Biograph comes home to the town that, it can certainly be
argued, the company got started.

  • The district of Hollywood unveils plans to erect a monument
    to Biograph for the filming of the first movie in Hollywood, In
    Old California
    . There will also be a premiere event for this
    historic film, which will be seen by the public for the first
    time in 93 years.
  • Biograph goes into negotiations to open a unique commercial
    studio on Hollywood Boulevard, which will
    allow the public to view actual production from the street. Adjacent, the
    company plans a showbiz-themed restaurant, where patrons can also view the

  • Biograph announces its development of three feature films,
    as well as its plans for Hollywood. The company will open a silent
    movie theater, an old vaudeville theatre and a Mutoscope penny
    arcade parlor with the flip card Mutoscope machines that Biograph
    invented. All of the monies from the parlor will go to charity.
    Biograph also intends to actively participate in the ongoing
    renovation of Hollywood.

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