Sunday, December 3, 2017

Born Today December 3: Lee Beggs


Silent actor and director Lee (short for Leonidas) Beggs was born on this day in Omaha, Nebraska.  He made his on screen acting debut in Solax's 1911 An Interrupted Elopement opposite Marian Swayne.  Beggs directed for the first time, along side Alice Guy, the following year with Hubby Does The Washing.  It would be the first of 35 directing credits that he would rack up before the end of 1915.  Beggs was a favorite and in-house staple at Solax-- and he stayed with the company until the bitter end--which resulted in his acting in only two films in 1913, unheard of for a successful actor of the time!  After the demise of Solax, he landed at Vitagraph--both acting and directing for them.  The first film that he made with them was Her Great Scoop in 1914.  He stayed with them through 1915, often working with Maurice Costello; in fact, the last film that he acted in for them with Costello and Leah Baird was A Question Of Right (1915) (note: as of this writing, anyone who would like to see Lee Beggs in action, both as an actor and a director--his comedy The Egyptian Mummy is currently on Amazon Prime to stream).  He then disappeared from the world of film until the early 1920's.  He next shows up in the Roy William Neill film The Iron Trail in 1921.  And, then, he is gone again until 1924, popping back up in the role of Samuel Adams in the D.W. Griffith's America.  This was not his last role in the historic vein, he also appeared as Benjamin Franklin in Janice Meredith (1924)  starring Marion Davies as his very next film.  He would appear in two more films in 1924, one of them a short.  His final silent film role came in 1926 as Boss O'Brien in Charles Hines' romantic comedy Stepping Along.  He acted in just 3 more films in his life, all them in 1934, with two of the roles going uncredited. One of those roles came in Lazy River (1934), his first talking role.  His last film appearance came in Tailspin Tommy.  He then retired from the business.  Upon his retirement, he returned to the east coast to the New York area, where most of his career was spent in the first studio systems there.  He died in New York City on the 18th of November 1943 at the age of 72.  Beggs' son Malcolm Lee Beggs was also a successful actor of screen and stage. They are both buried together at Kensico cemetery in Valhalla, New York.

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