George Beban

Active - 1915 - 1926  |   Born - Dec 13, 1873   |   Died - Oct 5, 1928   |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Hans J. Wollstein

A multi-talented force in early silent films, George Beban had been a prominent minstrel performer and appeared in vaudeville with the legendary team of Weber & Fields prior to starring in The Sign of the Rose (1911), a highly melodramatic story of an Italian immigrant framed in the kidnapping of a society scion. Beban, who also produced and co-wrote the play with Charles T. Dazey, and recreated this, his most famous role, for producer Thomas H. Ince in 1915. Renamed The Alien and released by Ince's New York Motion Picture Company, this interesting multi-media event featured Beban live on stage, interacting with the screen presentation. So successful was this engagement that he produced a second version under the original title in 1922, again making personal appearances wherever the film was presented. According to the trade-paper Variety, Beban would appear after reel four, continuing the story live on stage for about 18 minutes, after which the film version resumed for another reel or so. Beban's live setting, a florist shop, was an exact copy of the set used in the film. Due to the success of silent films among recent non-English speaking arrivals to the United States, Beban, who specialized in ethnic characters, became a major star of the 1910s, almost always portraying poor but honest immigrants who succeed despite the odds. Less busy in the more streamlined 1920s, Beban's early death was caused by a fall from a horse. His namesake son played bit parts in films of the 1940s.