Joseph Henaberry

Active - 1915 - 1948  |   Born - Jan 15, 1887   |   Died - Feb 18, 1976   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Adventure, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American director Joseph Henaberry spent his first eight years in the workplace as correspondence filer for a railroad. He devoted his evenings to attending theatrical performances, sometimes appearing on stage as an extra. When his bosses refused to give him a raise, Henaberry quit the railroad and decided to give acting a try, then became intrigued with the burgeoning movie industry. Joining D. W. Griffith's troupe, Henaberry worked his way up to assistant director, tracking down research material for Griffith's groundbreaking films The Birth of a Nation (1915) (in which Henaberry also appeared as Abraham Lincoln) and Intolerance (1916). After this valuable first-hand experience, Henaberry became a full fledged director. He worked with most of the major stars of the early '20s, including Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Miles Minter, Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Rudolph Valentino; as a favor to Fairbanks, he directed Douglas Jr. in the boy's film debut (Stephen Steps Out [1923]). For obscure reasons, Henaberry slipped from the front ranks in the late '20s. In the early '30s, Henaberry worked extensively at Vitaphone's Brooklyn studios, turning out a string of two-reelers; among these were a series of shorts based on the works of mystery writer S.S. Van Dine, and a group of dance-band specialties. During this period he was reunited with Fatty Arbuckle, guiding the rotund comedian through his "comeback" shorts series. Until 1957, Henaberry directed Army training films for the US Signal Corps. After a decade in retirement, Joseph Henaberry gained nationwide prominence in 1968, when his detailed reminiscenes of his years with D.W. Griffith were published in Kevin Brownlow's silent-film overview The Parade's Gone By.

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