Frank Powell

All on Account of the Milk
R: Frank Powell. K: Arthur Marvin. D: Mary Pickford, Kate Bruce, Blanche Sweet, Mack Sennett, Arthur V. Johnson, Flora Finch. P: Biograph Company. USA 1910

“Frank Powell (born May 8, 1877) was a Canadian-born stage and silent film actor, director, producer, and screenwriter who worked predominantly in the United States. He is also credited with ‘discovering’ Theda Bara and casting her in a starring role in the 1915 release A Fool There Was. Her performance in that production, under Powell’s direction, quickly earned Bara widespread fame as the film industry’s most popular evil seductress or on-screen ‘vamp’. (…) In New York in 1909, Powell expanded his career into the rapidly expanding motion picture industry, working initially as an actor and scriptwriter at Biograph Studios. There he also co-directed his first film with D.W. Griffith and demonstrated an adeptness at directing comedies.

After directing 63 short films for Biograph, Powell in 1914 journeyed (again) to Europe, where he joined Pathé Frères as a producer of historical and romantic dramas. (…) On his return to the United States, Powell in April 1912 was engaged by Powers Motion Pictures, and after being with that company for less than a year, he worked briefly again for Biograph before rejoining Pathé as a director of special features. (…) Later, as a freelancer, Powell directed the first film made by George Kleine’s production company. He was then hired near the end of 1914 by Fox Film Corporation, where he directed two highly popular films starring Theda Bara. The first one, A Fool There Was, was released in January 1915 and made the young actress an international star and gave her the nickname “The Vamp”. Often credited with ‘discovering’ Bara, he had cast Bara six months earlier in a very minor role in her onscreen debut for the Pathé drama The Stain.”

“The October 1916 edition of the Motion Picture News Studio Directory contained the following biographical account, which gives additional information concerning his wide roving in the field: ‘Frank Powell, president and director, Frank Powell Productions – Stage career: First with Eugene Blair in ‘A Lady of Quality’. Three years as stage director for Augustus Thomas in ‘The Education of Mr. Pipp’. Two years as stage director for Ellen Terry in her English tours. Stage director for Fannie Ward in ‘Lady Bantock’, etc. Screen career: Biograph (acted in and directed comedies), Pathé (directed in Paris and London), Kleine (Officer 666), American Pathé, Fox (director, The Children of the Ghetto, A Fool There Was, The Witch, The Fourth Estate, The Stain, Princess Romanoff, From the Valley of the Missing, The Chain Invisible, The Corsair, The Ghost, Jane Shore, The Other Sister, etc.), now at work on the first feature of his own, starring Creighton Hale, Linda Griffith, and Sheldon Lewis.'”

“The date, exact location, and cause of Powell’s death remain uncertain due to the lack of conclusive documentation. The presence of various Frank Powells in historical records in different states, conflicting information in federal indexes, and the ongoing need to find a corroborating obituary in a newspaper or trade publication leave many questions regarding Powell’s final years and death unanswered.”

Frank Powell as actor on this site:
>>> A Corner in Wheat
>>> The Mended Lute
>>> The Country Doctor

698-Frank Powell