Before becoming a notable early director and actor on the silver screen, Oscar Apfel was a veteran opera producer and director. His career in cinema began in 1911 when became a director for Edison. Apfel also directed films for other studios including Selig. His work became popular in 1914 when he began co-directing feature-length films with the legendary Cecil B. De Mille for Lasky-Paramount Studios. In 1916, he moved to Fox and later continued director for smaller studios until his career began to wane in the 1920s. At the end of his directorial career, Apfel had been reduced to churning out low-grade melodramas for cut-rate studios. He directed his final film in 1927. One year later, Apfel appeared again as an actor known for playing distinguished characters in films such as Romance of the Underworld (1928), and the 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon.