An important early film actor-director, the elegant Van Dyke Brooke broke into films with the Vitagraph company in 1909 after several decades on the stage in Detroit. Brooke starred in Vitagraph's popular Captain Barnacle series and appeared opposite the hefty John Bunny, the studio's top star. But it was as a director that he made his mark, especially guiding Vitagraph's premiere ingenue Norma Talmadge through some of that great star's earliest successes. By 1917, the factory approach to filmmaking at Vitagraph forced Brooke to move to competitor Thanhouser, where he directed a couple of pleasant comedies featuring Mary Pickford-lookalike Gladys Leslie. Both An Amateur Orphan (1917) and It Happened to Adele (1917) did all right at the box-office, but director and star were let go after an economy drive at the studio later that year. Van Dyke Brooke spent the remainder of his life as a character actor and starred opposite fellow Vitagraph refugee, Harry T. Morey, in The Sea Rider (1920).