Teenaged New Yorker Robert Harron escaped the bleak poverty of his Irish-immigrant neighborhood by taking a messenger job at the American Biograph film studios in the Bronx. When director D. W. Griffith arrived at Biograph in 1908, he took a liking to Harron and decided to take advantage of the boy's photogenic qualities. Before he was 20 years old, Harron was one of the busiest and most popular players at Biograph, acting opposite such "youngsters" as the Gish Sisters and Mary Pickford and playing an exhausting variety of characters, from country bumpkins to hollow-eyed drug addicts. He played one large role and several smaller ones in Griffith's groundbreaking Birth of a Nation (1915), and was prominently featured as the young man unjustly sentenced to hang in the director's follow-up epic Intolerance (1916). He remained with Griffith in 1920, then broke off to form his own production company. Unfortunately, Harron never realized his goal. In September of 1920, Harron died when he was fatally wounded by a gunshot to the left lung in what was officially ruled an accident.
by Hal Erickson biography