It was on this day, February 22, 1875, in M(ichigan) M(ovie) H(istory), American actor and director James Kirkwood, Sr. was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Debuting on screen as an actor in 1909, Kirkwood was soon playing leads for D.W. Griffith. He started directing in 1912, and became a favorite of Mary Pickford, with whom he made nine films; he also co-starred in three of them.
Although considered a major director in his day, Kirkwood soon found directing assignments difficult to come by. His directing career faded by 1920, but he continued acting well into the 1950s. He was George Melford’s original choice for the starring role of Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan in The Sheik, which was later famously passed to Rudolph Valentino.
From a Corner in Wheat
Kirkwood’s film career would span more than two hundred films over nearly a half century.