D.W. Griffith: From The Birth Of A Nation to his death

by P-Francone

D.W. Griffith was widely considered a racist for his positive portrayal of the Ku Klux Klan.

D.W. Griffith was a celebrated director, producer, writer, actor and racist.

He was born in 1875, before the days of Hollywood and even before silent films came into existence. He is best remembered for his 1915 epic film “The Birth of a Nation”, the most ambitious and commercially successful film made in the USA at that point.

Griffith was buried eight miles south of his hometown of La Grange, KY in Centerfield, KY after passing away in 1948 from a cerebral hemorrhage en route to the hospital . In 1913 Griffith bought a house in LaGrange for his mother – interestingly, this house was a funeral home for several years before she moved in. She passed away a year later, and his sister continued to live there until 1934 when she, too, passed away. Griffith and his wife lived there until moving to California in 1939. It is now once again a private residence, and public attraction.

A half-reel film recording of Griffith’s 1948 funeral service in Hollywood exists, and is regarded as a rather sad film. Many celebrities of the time are present, however none of them appear to be paying much attention to his passing, instead trying to look good for the cameras. The crowd is quite sparse, many of the attendees are thought to just be tourists. Madame Sul Te Wan, one of Griffith’s devoted friends appears to be the only one that is really affected by the loss. Other attendees were Cecil DeMille, Charlie Chaplin, Mack Sennett, Jesse Lasky, Louis B. Mayer, Hedda Hopper, Richard Neill, Jack Mulhall, Monte Blue, Dell Henderson, Charles Rosher, Tex Cooper, Charles Brackett and Theodore Huff.

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