Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Born Today: Dell Henderson


Actor George Delbert "Dell" Henderson was born on this day in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.  Henderson, like so many silent stars, got his start on the stage, but didn't stay there long.  He appeared in his first film in 1908 in the D. W. Griffith directed, Mack Sennett penned comedic short Monday Morning In A Coney Island Police Court.  He spent most of his early film career in D.W. Griffith films, branching out only to star in a few Mack Sennett directed films (Sennett ran Biograph's comedy division before founding Keystone in 1912).  Griffith even hired him to adapt print material into film scenarios; the first film that he worked on in this capacity was The Modern Prodigal (1910), a film that survives and is available for purchase.  Henderson made his own directorial debut along side Sennett in 1911 with Comrades.  The first film that he directed on his own was Mr. Grouch At The Seashore in 1912, featuring amongst others, Jack Pickford--younger brother of Mary.  By the time that Griffith graduated to feature length films, Henderson was mostly directing himself in films for Biograph.  However it was over at Famous Players in 1916 that he directed his first feature length film with Rolling Stones.  In 1917, he added his only production credit to his name with Outcast, a film that he also directed; the film was made at the largely independent Empire All Star Corp.  Henderson kept directing all throughout the 1910's and 1920's, but decided to retire from the chair in 1927 to devote his life to a full time acting career (he had become so engrossed with directing that he had an acting hiatus between 1916 and 1924).  The last film that he directed was The Rambling Ranger, a 50 minute western made for Universal.  His last writing credit came in 1928 with Galloping Ghosts; he penned the script with Stan Laurel, with the film featuring Oliver Hardy, made for Hal Roach Studios.  The first sound film that appeared in is a film that he is well remembered for: King Vidor's 1928 Show People--the film is a partial silent with only sound effects and a score.  The first full sound film that he appeared in was the 1929 romance The College Coquette, with sound by MovieTone.  He continued to work right up close to the time of his death, though most of his roles were small and uncredited; the last film he appeared in was Louisa (1950), a film starring Ronald Reagan.  He only appeared on television once in 1954 in the This Is Your Life episode honoring Mack Sennett.  Henderson died two years later of a heart attack at the age of 73 on the 2nd of December.  He is interred at Valhalla Memorial Park. Henderson was married to actress Florence Lee, with whom he appeared in several silents films.

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