Saturday, June 24, 2017

Born Today June 24: J. Gordon Edwards


Canadian born silent film director J. Gordon Edwards was born on this day in Montreal.  Like so many silent film pioneers, Edwards got his start in the theater; first as an actor, then as a director at the Suburban Garden Theater in St. Louis, Missouri.  He would go on to be Theda Bara's favorite director, whom he directed some 22 times.  He made his film debut in 1914, directing St. Elmo for Balboa Amusement.  He was then hired by Fox, where he was trusted with a good number of their largest budget films.  The first film that he made for them was The Celebrated Scandal in 1915, starring Betty Nansen.  He added writing to his list of accomplishments in 1915 with Blindness of Devotion.  He first directed Bara in 1916 in Under Two Flags (like so many Bara/Fox films, this film is lost); the film represents his only producer credit.  One of his most important films with Bara came in 1917 with the now also lost Cleopatra.  In 1921, he directed the huge epic The Queen Of Sheba, complete with a very elaborate chariot race (again, it is another lost Fox film)--the film represented one the largest budgets in the then hence-to history of the famed studio.  His last time in the directing chair came with It Is The Law in 1924.  Edwards died the following year in New York City from pneumonia on New Year's Eve (1925) at the age of 58.  He is buried in a very elaborate tomb resembling the Taj Majal in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.

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