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Lois Weber
LoisWeber.jpg
Weber in 1916
Born
Florence Lois Weber

(1879-06-13)June 13, 1879
Died November 13, 1939(1939-11-13) (aged 60)
Occupation Actress, film director, film producer, screenwriter
Spouse(s)
Phillips Smalley
(m. 1904; div. 1922)

Harry Gantz
(m. 1926; div. 1935)
Awards Hollywood Walk of Fame – Motion Picture
6518 Hollywood Blvd

Florence Lois Weber (June 13, 1879 – November 13, 1939) was an American silent film actress, screenwriter, producer and director. She is identified in some historical references as "the most important female director the American film industry has known", and among "the most important and prolific film directors in the era of silent films". Film historian Anthony Slide has also asserted, "Along with D. W. Griffith, Weber was the American cinema's first genuine auteur, a filmmaker involved in all aspects of production and one who utilized the motion picture to put across her own ideas and philosophies".

Weber produced a body of work which has been compared to Griffith's in both quantity and quality and brought to the screen her concerns for humanity and social justice in an estimated 200 to 400 films, of which as few as twenty have been preserved. She has been credited by IMDb with directing 135 films, writing 114, and acting in 100. Weber was "one of the first directors to come to the attention of the censors in Hollywood's early years".

Weber has been credited with pioneering the use of the split screen technique to show simultaneous action in her 1913 film Suspense. In collaboration with her first husband, Phillips Smalley, in 1913 Weber was "one of the first directors to experiment with sound", making the first sound films in the United States. She was also the first American woman to direct a full-length feature film when she and Smalley directed The Merchant of Venice in 1914, and in 1917 the first American woman director to own her own film studio.

During the war years, Weber "achieved tremendous success by combining a canny commercial sense with a rare vision of cinema as a moral tool". At her zenith, "few men, before or since, have retained such absolute control over the films they have directed—and certainly no women directors have achieved the all-embracing, powerful status once held by Lois Weber". By 1920, Weber was considered the "premier woman director of the screen and author and producer of the biggest money making features in the history of the film business".

Among Weber's notable films are: her adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan of the Apes novel for the very first Tarzan of the Apes film, in 1918; and what is often considered her masterpiece, The Blot, in 1921.

Weber is credited with discovering, mentoring, or making stars of several women actors, including Mary MacLaren, Mildred Harris, Claire Windsor, Esther Ralston, Billie Dove, Ella Hall, Cleo Ridgely, and Anita Stewart, and with discovering and inspiring screenwriter Frances Marion. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Weber was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960.

Legacy

The Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival gives out the Lois Weber Award in her honor since 2017.

A one-woman play, Tea with Lois, is based on Weber's talks at the Hollywood Studio Club. Written, produced and directed by Susan Kurtz, it was recorded and shown at the 53rd Cinecon Film Featival in 2017.

Selected filmography

Year Title Actress Writer Producer Director Role Notes
1911 A Heroine of '76 Yes Yes The Tavern Keeper's Daughter Co-directed with Edwin S. Porter and Phillips Smalley
The Heiress Yes Yes Mrs. Browne – the Heiress Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
The Realization Yes Yes Mrs. Kendall
On the Brink Yes Yes Yes Tess – a Girl of the Village Co-directed with Edwin S. Porter
Fate Yes Yes Flora Brown Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
A Breach of Faith Yes Yes
The Martyr Yes Yes Yes The Wife and Mother
1912 Angels Unaware Yes Yes The Wife
The Fine Feathers Yes Yes Yes The Artist's Model
The Bargain Yes Yes May Shirwood
The Final Pardon Yes Yes Yes The Singer
Eyes That See Not Yes Yes Yes The Millionaire's Wife
The Price of Peace Yes Yes Yes
The Power of Thought Yes Yes Yes Lois – The Maid
The Greater Love Yes Yes The Invalid Wife
The Troubadour's Triumph Yes Yes
The Greater Christian Yes Yes Helen Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
An Old Fashioned Girl Yes Yes Yes The Old Fashioned Girl
A Japanese Idyll Yes Yes
Faraway Fields Yes Yes Yes The Ambitious Older Sister
Leaves in the Storm Yes Yes The Wife
1913 The Jew's Christmas Yes Yes Yes Leah – Isaac's Daughter Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
Suspense Yes Yes Yes The Wife
His Brand Yes Yes Yes The Wife
The Female of the Species Yes Yes Yes The Gypsy – the Bad (good) Woman Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
How Men Propose Yes Yes Yes The Maid
1914 A Fool and His Money Yes Yes Yes Helen Hogg – the Daughter of the House Co-written and directed with Phillips Smalley
The Leper's Coat Yes Yes Yes The Wife Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
The Merchant of Venice Yes Yes Yes Paria Based on the novel by William Shakespeare
Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
Behind the Veil Yes Yes Yes Lois – the Mother Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
False Colors Yes Yes Mrs. Moore / daughter Flo
The Career of Waterloo Peterson Yes Yes Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
Traitor Yes Yes
The Opened Shutters Yes Based on a novel by Clara Louise Burnham
1915 It's No Laughing Matter Yes Yes Yes Co-produced with Phillips Smalley
Hypocrites Yes Yes Yes
Sunshine Molly Yes Yes Yes Yes Sunshine Molly Story by Alice von Saxmar
Co-produced with Phillips Smalley
Captain Courtesy Yes Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
Scandal Yes Yes Yes Daisy Dean
A Cigarette, That's All Yes Yes Story by Helena Phillips Evans
Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
Jewel Yes Yes Yes Based on a novel by Clara Louise Burnham
Co-produced and directed with Phillips Smalley
1916 Discontent Yes Yes Co-directed with Allen G. Siegler
The Dumb Girl of Portici Yes Yes Yes Based on the opera by Daniel Auber, Germain Delavigne and Eugène Scribe
Co-produced with Phillips Smalley and Carl Laemmle
Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
Hop, The Devil's Brew Yes Yes Yes Lydia Jansen Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
John Needham's Double Yes Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
The Flirt Yes Yes Based on a novel by Booth Tarkington
Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
Where Are My Children? Yes Yes Yes Story by Lucy Payton and Franklyn Hall
Co-written, produced, and directed with Phillips Smalley
The Eye of God Yes Yes Yes Ana Lost film
Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
Shoes Yes Yes Yes Based on a novel by Jane Addams
Story by Stella Wynne Herron
Co-produced with Phillips Smalley
Saving the Family Name Yes Yes Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
Idle Wives Yes Yes Yes Anne Wall Based on a novel by James Oppenheim
Co-written and directed with Phillips Smalley
Wanted: A Home Yes Yes Yes Co-produced and directed with Phillips Smalley
The People vs. John Doe Yes Yes Yes
The Rock of Riches Yes Yes Yes
1917 Alone in the World Yes
The Mysterious Mrs. Musslewhite Yes Yes Based on a short story by Thomas Edgelow
Even As You and I Yes
The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Yes Yes Yes Yes Mrs. Broome Co-written, produced and directed by Phillips Smalley
The Price of a Good Time Yes Yes Yes Story by Marion Orth
Co-produced and directed with Phillips Smalley
1918 Tarzan of the Apes Yes Based on the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Co-written with Fred Miller
The Doctor and the Woman Yes Yes Lost film
Based on the novel by Mary Roberts Rinehart
Co-written and directed with Phillips Smalley
For Husbands Only Yes Yes Yes Story by Gladys Bronwyn Stern
Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
Borrowed Clothes Yes Yes Yes Story by Marion Orth
Co-produced with Phillips Smalley
1919 When a Girl Loves Yes Yes Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
A Midnight Romance Yes Yes Story by Marion Orth
Mary Regan Yes Yes Story by Leroy Scott
Home Yes Yes
Forbidden Yes Yes Lost film
Story by E.V. Durling
Co-directed with Phillips Smalley
1920 To Please One Woman Yes Yes Yes Story by Marion Orth
1921 What's Worth While? Yes Yes Yes
Too Wise Wives Yes Yes Yes Story co-written by Marion Orth
The Blot Yes Yes Yes Scenario by Marion Orth
What Do Men Want? Yes Yes Yes
1923 A Chapter in Her Life Yes Yes Based on a novel by Clara Louise Burnham
Co-written with Doris Schroeder
1926 The Marriage Clause Yes Yes Based on a story by Dana Burnet
1927 Sensation Seekers Yes Yes Based on a story by Ernest Pascal
The Angel of Broadway Yes
1934 White Heat Yes Yes Co-written with James Bodrero

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