Nell Shipman

Active - 1916 - 1935  |   Born - in Vancouver, BC, Canada  |   Genres - Drama, Western

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Nell Shipman is the only Canadian woman to find success writing, producing, directing, and starring in her own feature films. Though born and raised in Vancouver, Shipman moved to California when she was a teen where at fourteen she began to star in films. By 1912, she had begun writing some of the films she starred in. She became one of the first female directors in 1914, and by the '20s, she had set up her own production company where she specialized in outdoor adventure films involving an assortment of wild animals including skunks, raccoons, wolves, and bears. Sadly, much of her work remains uncredited. Some of this may be due to the fact that she often used a masculine pseudonym when directing prior to meeting her husband Ernest Shipman who joined her in the film industry. For several of her films, most notably Back to God's Country, Shipman collaborated with writer James Oliver Curword's short stories. Upon her separation from her husband, she went on to form another production company and continue making and starring in her own films until the end of the silent era. She continued writing scripts, usually about animals, for other studios including Wings in the Dark (1935). In 1974 when she died at the age of 77, Nell Shipman was destitute. Later a manuscript of her memoirs, The Silent Screen and My Talking Heart, was found. Three years after her death, on August 31, 1977, an area of Lionhead State Park at Priest Lake, Idaho was designated Nell Shipman Point.

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