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Bosworth, Hobart



Hobart Bosworth-(August 11, 1867 – December 30, 1943) pioneering movie director, writer, producer and actor--was born Hobart Van Zandt Bosworth on August 11, 1867, in Marietta, OH. He was a direct descendant of 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 his lineage.  Autograph Slip Signed, 1899 - 7 1/2 x 5 1/4 written in blue ink with toning overall, fine condition.


After his mother died his father remarried and the young Hobart took a dislike to his stepmother. Convinced that he was "ill used and cruelly treated," as he told an interviewer in 1914, he ran away from home for to New York City. He signed on as a cabin boy on the clipper ship "Sovereign of the Seas" and was soon out at sea.

After his first voyage, a five-month affair that took him from New York to San Francisco, he spent his wages on candy. Sleeping it off on a bench in the park in back of Trinity Church, the young boy did not know that the organ music he was listening to as he dozed was being played by his very own uncle. A Captain Roberts, who found stevedore work for the lad, 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. "All my people were of the sea and my father was a naval officer," he told an interviewer. He spent 11 months on an old-fashioned whaler plying the Arctic region, then was employed doing odd jobs in San Francisco.

After turns as 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 art led him to the stage. He 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 William Shakespeare's "Cymbeline" and "Measure for Measure" (during his time with the company, Hobarth and another writer wrote a version of "Faust" that Morrison used for 20 years in repertory).

By 1887 he was acting at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco, and became proficient enough on stage to give Shakespearean recitals in costume the following year. He had acted almost all of the famous characters in the Shakespearean canon by the time he was 21 years old, though he admitted that he was the worst Macbeth ever.

Moving to Tempe, AZ, to partake of the salubrious climate improved his chances of battling T.B., and eventually he got the disease under control. While he was not actually an invalid, he was forced to live like one and remain in a warm climate lest he suffer a relapse. The T.B. robbed him of his voice, but since he was no longer on stage, it didn't matter.

There was a new medium for actors: motion pictures. Bosworth moved to San Diego, which had a reputation of having the most perfect climate in the continental United States, and in 1908 was contracted to make a film by the Selig Polyscope Co. Shooting was to be down in the outdoors, and he did not have to use his voice, which was in a poor condition.

The arrangement was perfect for him. "I believe, after all, that it is the motion pictures that have saved my life," he recounted less than a decade later. "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 Selig, Bosworth eventually spearheaded the movie company's move to Los Angeles. In 1913 he formed his own company, Hobart Bosworth Productions Co., to produce a series of Jack London melodramas.

He produced, directed and starred in the company's first picture, playing Wolf Larsen in The Sea Wolf (1913), with London himself appearing as a sailor. The movie was released in the U.S. by W.W. Hodkinson Corp. D.W. Griffith also released a Jack London picture earlier that year, Two Men of the Desert (1913), but Bosworth followed up "The Sea Wolf" with The Chechako (1914), with Jack Conway playing the lead as Smoke Bellew, the title character of the eponymous London novel the movie is based on. "The Chechako" and some of the subsequent Boswoth-London pictures were distributed through Paramount, the releasing arm of Famous Players-Lasky.