Robert Hill

Active - 1916 - 1956  |   Born - Apr 14, 1886   |   Died - Mar 18, 1966   |   Genres - Western, Action, Drama, Crime, Mystery

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Biography by Hans J. Wollstein

One of the busiest directors in the field of low-budget action fare, Canadian-born Robert F. Hill is especially remembered for his contributions to serials. A one-time screen villain and a member of the Edison stock company, Hill later switched to Universal, where he was made a director. Although high-strung and nervous, the gangly Hill possessed the most important qualification for success at Carl Laemmle's San Fernando film factory: an ability to finish a project on time and under budget. By 1925, Hill assumed that he had earned a raise but "Uncle Carl" thought otherwise and the disappointed director bolted to join independent producer C.W. Patton. Their joint venture, the Western serial Idaho (1925), proved a disappointment, however, and despite Laemmle's very vocal doubts, Hill returned to Universal. There was an aborted (and frankly bizarre) attempt to produce Universal films in Japan, after which Hill returned to the serial and Western grind for good. He remained with Universal until 1940 when a new regime at the studio practically forced him to retire. The prolific Hill returned instead to Poverty Row, where he became an actor for hire and wrote screenplays under the name Rock Hawkey. A true screen veteran, Robert F. Hill retired in the mid-'50s.

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