Hobart Van Zandt Bosworth (August 11, 1867 – December 30, 1943) was
an American film actor, director, writer, and producer.
1 Early life
3 Death and legacy
4 Partial filmography
6 External links
He was born on August 11, 1867, in Marietta, Ohio. He was a descendant
Miles Standish and John and
Priscilla Alden on his father's side
and of New York's Van Zandt family, the first Dutch settlers to land
in the New World, on his mother's side. Bosworth was always proud of
After his mother died, his father remarried and young Hobart took a
dislike to his stepmother. Considering himself "ill used and cruelly
treated", as he told an interviewer in 1914, he ran away to New York
City. There he signed on as a cabin boy aboard the Sovereign of the
Seas, a clipper ship, and was soon out to sea.
After his first voyage, a five-month trip that took him from New York
to San Francisco, Hobart spent his wages on candy. (Sleeping it off on
a bench in the park in back of Trinity Church, the young boy didn't
know when dozing off that the organ music was being played by his own
uncle. A Captain Roberts, who found stevedore work for young Hobart,
told him of his uncle's presence in San Francisco.) He continued as a
sailor as the sea was in his family's blood, eventually spending three
years at sea.
Hobart Bosworth in costume
He once told an interviewer, "All my people were of the sea and my
father was a naval officer". He spent eleven months on an old
fashioned whaler plying the Arctic. Back in San Francisco, he found
work at odd jobs. When not otherwise occupied becoming a
semi-professional boxer and wrestler, Bosworth tried ranching in
Southern California and Mexico, where he learned to become an expert
horseman. Finally, his interest in the arts led him to the stage.
Thinking he would like to become a landscape painter, a friend
suggested that he work as a stage manager to raise the money to study
art. Acting on his friend's advice, Bosworth obtained a job with McKee
Rankin as a stage manager at the California Theatre in San Francisco.
Earning some money, he undertook the study of painting. Eventually, he
was pressed into duty as an actor in a small part with three lines.
Though he botched the lines, he was given other small roles. Bosworth
was eighteen years old, and on the cusp of a life in the theater.
From left to right, Monte Blue, Miriam Cooper, and
Hobart Bosworth in
costume for a publicity still for the silent drama Betrayed (1917)
Hobart signed on with Louis Morrison to be part of a road company for
a season as both an actor and as Morrison's dresser, playing
Cymbeline and Measure for Measure. During his time with
the company, Hobart and another writer wrote a version of
Morrison used for twenty years in repertory. By 1887, he was acting at
the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco. He became proficient enough on
stage to give
Shakespearean canon by the time he was twenty-one years
old, though he admitted that he was the worst
Bosworth eventually wound up in Park City, Utah, where he worked in a
mine, pushing an ore wagon in order to raise money. He escaped the
pits to tour with the magician Hermann the Great as the conjurer's
assistant for a tour through Mexico.
For the first time in eleven years, the 21-year-old Bosworth met his
father. Hobart recalled, "He looked at me and said, "Hum! I couldn't
lick you now, son." They never met again.
He arrived back in New York in December 1888, and was hired by
Augustine Daly to play "Charles the Wrestler" in As You Like It. He
did so well in the role, Daly kept him on. Bosworth remained with
Daly's company for ten years, in which he played mostly minor parts.
Seven times while he was with the company they made foreign tours,
playing in Berlin, Cologne, London,
Paris and other European cities.
Playing exclusively small parts eroded his confidence,[citation
needed] and Bosworth left Daly to sign on with Julia Marlowe, who cast
him in leads in
Just as Bosworth began to taste stage stardom in New York, he was
stricken with tuberculosis, a disease often fatal in the 19th and
early 20th centuries. Bosworth was forced to give up the stage, and he
was not allowed to exert himself indoors. Though he made a rapid
recovery, he returned to the stage too quickly and suffered a relapse.
For the rest of his working life, he balanced his acting with periods
of rest so as to keep his tuberculosis in remission.
Bosworth re-established himself as a lead actor on the New York stage,
appearing in the 1903 Broadway revival of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler.
He also appeared that year on the
Great White Way
Great White Way as the lead in Marta
of the Lowlands. This role propelled him to Broadway stardom. However,
he was forced again to give up the stage when he lost seventy pounds
in ten weeks due to his illness.
Bosworth moved to Tempe, Arizona, to partake of the climate to improve
his health. Eventually, he got the disease under control again. While
not severely handicapped, he was forced to remain in a warm climate
lest he suffer a relapse. The disease robbed him of his voice as well,
but there was a new medium for actors: silent films.
Bosworth moved to San Diego, and in 1908 he was contracted to make a
motion picture by the Selig Polyscope Company. Shooting was to be done
in the outdoors, and he did not have to use his voice, which was in
poor condition. Bosworth once said, "I believe, after all, that it is
the motion pictures that have saved my life. How could I have lived on
and on, without being able to carry out any of my cherished ambitions?
What would my life have meant? Here, in pictures, I am realizing my
biggest hopes." Signing with the Selig Polyscope Co., Hobart
eventually convinced the movie company to move to Los Angeles.
Bosworth is widely credited with being the star of the first movie
made on the West Coast.
Due to his role in pioneering the film industry in California,
Bosworth often was referred to as the "Dean of Hollywood". He wrote
the scenarios for the second and third pictures he acted in, and
directed the third. According to his own count, he eventually wrote
112 scenarios and produced eighty-four pictures with Selig. Bosworth
was attracted to Jack London's work due to his out-of-doors filming
experience and the requirements of his health, which precluded acting
In 1913, he started his own company,
Hobart Bosworth Productions
Company, to produce a series of Jack
London melodramas. He produced
and directed the company's first picture, playing Wolf Larsen in The
London himself appeared as a sailor. The
movie was released in the U.S. by The W.W. Hodkinson Corp. and States
Right Independent Exchanges.
D.W. Griffith also released a Jack
London picture that year, Two Men
of the Desert, but Hobart followed up
The Sea Wolf
The Sea Wolf with The Chechako.
The Chechako and some other Bosworth-
London pictures were distributed
through Paramount Pictures.
Bosworth directed the follow-up, The Valley of the Moon, in which he
also had a supporting role as an actor. He also appeared as an actor
in John Barleycorn, which he co-directed with J. Charles Haydon. He
produced, directed, wrote, and acted in Martin Eden and An Odyssey of
the North, playing the lead in the latter, which was released by
Paramount. He finished up the series by producing, directing, and
playing the lead in the two-part "Burning Daylight" series, The
Adventures of Burning Daylight. Both were released by Paramount.
Soon Bosworth joined the Oliver Photography Company. Subsequently,
Bosworth Inc. and
Oliver Morosco Productions released a total of
thirty-one pictures, most which starred Bosworth. The company ceased
operations after producing The Sea Lion.
In a scene still for the 1919 silent drama Behind the Door, German
U-boat commander Lieutenant Brandt (played by Wallace Beery) is being
throttled by American Merchant Marine Captain Oscar Krug (Hobart
The merger with Paramount ended the period in Bosworth's creative life
where he was a major force in the motion picture industry, which was
undergoing changes as the industry matured and solidified. He directed
one other picture before the merger, The White Scar, which he also
wrote and starred in for the Universal Film Manufacturing Company.
After his own production company closed, Hobart wound up playing
supporting roles as an actor.
He divorced his first wife, Adele Farrington, in 1919. On 22 December
1920 he married Cecile Kibre, widow of G. Harold Percival, who had
been art director at Ince Studio and who had died of influenza in
1918. Cecile Kibre had a son by Percival, named George, whom Hobart
Bosworth later adopted as his son.
Bosworth survived motion pictures' transition to sound, or "talkies".
Aside from appearing in Warner Brothers' showcase, The Show of Shows
(1929), his talking debut proper was in the film short A Man in Peace,
for Vitaphone, while his first sound feature was Vitaphone's
Ruritanian romance General Crack, starring John Barrymore. Although he
appeared in small roles in
A-list films, Bosworth primarily made his
living as a prominently billed character actor in
serials churned out by
Poverty Row studios. In all his roles in A and
B pictures, he usually was typecast in a fatherly role, as a
clergyman, judge, grandparent, etc.
Death and legacy
Hobart Bosworth died of pneumonia in Glendale, California, aged 76.
He was survived by his second wife, Cecile and his son George. He was
entombed in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park with a private
For his contributions to the film industry, Bosworth received a motion
pictures star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. The star is
located at 6522 Hollywood Boulevard.
The Count of Monte Cristo (1908)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1908)
Rip Van Winkle (1908)
Damon and Pythias (1908)
The Spirit of '76 (1908)
On Thanksgiving Day (1908)
The Tenderfoot (1909)
Boots and Saddles (1909)
In the Badlands (1909)
Fighting Bob (1909)
In the Sultan's Power (1909)
The Leopard Queen (1909)
Across the Plains (1910)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910) (undetermined)
Davy Crockett (1910)
The Sergeant (1910) - extant
Brown of Harvard (1911) (uncredited)
Alas! Poor Yorick!
Alas! Poor Yorick! (1913 short)
Buckshot John (1915) (also directed)
Oliver Twist (1916)
Joan the Woman
Joan the Woman (1916)
A Mormon Maid
A Mormon Maid (1917)
The Little American
The Little American (1917) (uncredited)
The Devil-Stone (1917)
The Border Legion (1918)
Behind the Door (1919) – extant; Library of Congress
Below the Surface (1920) – extant; DVD
His Own Law
His Own Law (1920) – extant; Library of Congress
The Foolish Matrons
The Foolish Matrons (1921)
Blind Hearts (1921) – extant; Library of Congress
The Sea Lion
The Sea Lion (1921) – extant; Library of Congress, DVD
Vanity Fair (1923)
Little Church Around the Corner (1923)
The Common Law (1923)
The Eternal Three (1923)
Through the Dark (1924)
Name the Man (1924)
Nellie, the Beautiful Cloak Model (1924)
Captain January (1924)
Hello, 'Frisco (1924)
Hearts of Oak (1924)
The Silent Watcher
The Silent Watcher (1924)
My Son (1925)
Zander the Great
Zander the Great (1925)
The Half-Way Girl
The Half-Way Girl (1925)
The Big Parade
The Big Parade (1925)
The Far Cry
The Far Cry (1926)
The Blood Ship (1927)
Annie Laurie (1927)
The Chinese Parrot (1927)
My Best Girl (1927)
After the Storm (1928)
Hangman's House (1928)
The Sawdust Paradise
The Sawdust Paradise (1928)
A Woman of Affairs
A Woman of Affairs (1928)
Eternal Love (1929)
The Show of Shows (1929)
General Crack (1930)
The Devil's Holiday (1930)
Abraham Lincoln (1930)
The Office Wife
The Office Wife (1930)
The Third Alarm (1930)
Just Imagine (1930)
This Modern Age
This Modern Age (1931)
Fanny Foley Herself
Fanny Foley Herself (1931)
Carnival Boat (1932)
The Miracle Man (1932)
The Last of the Mohicans (1932 serial)
The Phantom Express
The Phantom Express (1932)
The County Fair (1932)
Music in the Air (1934)
Whom the Gods Destroy (1934)
The Dark Hour (1936)
General Spanky (1936)
The Secret of Treasure Island
The Secret of Treasure Island (1938 serial)
Rollin' Plains (1938)
Law of the Tropics (1941)
Sin Town (1942)
I Was Framed (1942)
^ a b c "Hobart Bosorth, Film Pioneer, Dies. Played Lead in First
Movie Made in Los Angeles. Star of Many Screen Epics". New York Times.
December 31, 1943. Retrieved 2013-12-23.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame - Hobart Bosworth". walkoffame.com.
Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hobart Bosworth.
Hobart Bosworth on IMDb
Hobart Bosworth at the
Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Hobart Bosworth at Find a Grave
Hobart Bosworth at Virtual History
ISNI: 0000 0000 2844 6224
BNF: cb14670356n (data)