Photo of D.W. Griffith D.W. Griffith

The son of a Confederate Army colonel, D.W. Griffith -- whose Southern heritage would shape and ultimately blemish his film career -- was born Jan. 22, 1875, in La Grange, Ky.

After struggling as a stage actor, Griffith found his way into the nascent movie industry, going to work for Biograph Studio, where he produced 450 short films between 1908 and 1913. During this time he pioneered numerous cinematic devices (including cross-cutting, close-ups and parallel action), all of which came together in 1915's Birth of a Nation, a Civil War epic that came to define the medium. Griffith's masterpiece, however, also stirred controversy because of its negative depiction of blacks.

Griffith -- a co-founder of United Artists -- went on to make a number of other notable films, including Intolerance (1916), Broken Blossoms (1919) and America (1924). He died of a cerebral hemorrhage July 23, 1948.

D.W. Griffith in The Birth of a Nation

The Birth of a Nation

1915 NR

The fates of two families intertwine in this controversial silent drama, a period saga that recounts the genesis of the U.S. Civil War, the destruction it wrought upon the populace and the ascent of the Ku Klux Klan in the war's aftermath.

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  • D.W. Griffith in Broken Blossoms Broken Blossoms
  • D.W. Griffith in Orphans of the Storm Orphans of the Storm
  • D.W. Griffith in D.W. Griffith: Years of Discovery D.W. Griffith: Years of Discovery
  • D.W. Griffith in The Avenging Conscience The Avenging Conscience
  • D.W. Griffith in Way Down East Way Down East
  • D.W. Griffith in The Yankee Clipper The Yankee Clipper
  • D.W. Griffith in Abraham Lincoln / The Struggle Abraham Lincoln / The Struggle
  • D.W. Griffith in D.W. Griffith: The Father of Film D.W. Griffith: The Father of Film