The Elephant's Graveyard

by hrfhokie | created - 26 Sep 2018 | updated - 3 weeks ago | Public

Throughout most of film history, most filmmakers who work in television have been seperate from those who work in film. They start in television and either break out to movies or stay there forever. This is a list of the filmmakers who took the opposite path.

Outside the US, it is more common for filmmakers to move freely between the two mediums, especially in public television. It is only in the 21st century that filmmakers in the US have moved freely back and forth between the two mediums. Most television directors only work in made for TV films or occasionally low budget independent film.

This is a list of craftsmen whose careers started before television in serials, silent films, shorts or features, minor or major studio. They all eventually ended up in television, where they ended their careers.

Filmmakers such as R.G. Springsteen, Wiilliam Witney, and Phil Karlson, who ended up in television but also continued to regularly direct films, are not included in this list. Every filmmaker on this list has a point in their career where television becomes the "graveyard" they end their lives in, as Christopher Wicking and Tise Vahimagi put it in their TV director book The American Vein. Their "Elephant's Graveyard" category in that book forms the basis for this list and the source of its title.

1. William Beaudine

Director | The Ape Man

William Beaudine, the director of nearly 350 known films (nearly one for every day of the year; some listings of his work put his output at 500 movies and hundreds of TV episodes) and scores of television episodes, enjoyed a directing career that stretched across seven decades from the 'Teens to ...

2. Jean Yarbrough

Director | I'm the Law

Jean Yarbrough was born on August 22, 1900 in Marianna, Arkansas, USA as Arthur Jean Wilker Yarbrough. He was a director and producer, known for I'm the Law (1953), Top Sergeant Mulligan (1941) and Inside Job (1946). He died on August 2, 1975 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

3. Charles Barton

Director | A Man's World

Charles T. Barton was born in Oakland, CA, on May 25, 1902. His father managed a candy store, and soon moved the family to Los Angeles, where Charles, nicknamed "Charlie", got a job at age 15 acting as an extra in silent movies. He eventually left acting for a job behind the camera as an assistant ...

4. George Archainbaud

Director | One Week of Love

French-born (Paris) George Archainbaud got his start in show business as an actor and stage manager in France. Emigrating to the US in 1915, he got work as an assistant director to fellow French expatriate Emile Chautard at William A. Brady's World Film Co. in Fort Lee, NJ. His directorial debut ...

5. Lew Landers

Director | Pacific Liner

Rivaling Sam Newfield and William Beaudine as one of the American film industry's most prolific directors, Lew Landers began directing features in the mid-'30s under his real name of Louis Friedlander, but changed it to Lew Landers after several films. His first effort, The Raven (1935), with Boris...

6. David Butler

Director | You'll Find Out

David Butler was born on December 17, 1894 in San Francisco, California, USA. He was a director and actor, known for You'll Find Out (1940), Look for the Silver Lining (1949) and East Side of Heaven (1939). He was married to Elshie H Schulte. He died on June 14, 1979 in Arcadia, California.

7. Thomas Carr

Director | Brick Bradford

Thomas Carr was born on July 4, 1907 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA as Thomas Howard Carr. He was a director and actor, known for Brick Bradford (1947), Superman's Peril (1954) and Bruce Gentry (1949). He was married to Julejane Cameron. He died on April 23, 1997 in Ventura, California, USA.

8. John English

Director | Captain America

Second-feature director, began his directing career at Republic in 1935 then moved to Columbia, eventually partnering with director William Witney to make what many serial aficionados regard as the best serials to ever come out of Hollywood. Went over to Columbia Pictures, where he was under ...

9. Robert Florey

Director | Four Star Playhouse

Robert Florey became infatuated with Hollywood while in his teens. By the time he set off for America in the early 1920s he had written articles on film for Cinemagazine, La Cinematographie Francaise and Le Technicien du Film, acted and directed one-reel shorts in Switzerland and worked as an ...

10. Jesse Hibbs

Director | The Wild Wild West

Jesse Hibbs was born on January 11, 1906 in Normal, Illinois, USA as Jesse John Hibbs. He was a director and assistant director, known for The Wild Wild West (1965), To Hell and Back (1955) and The Invaders (1967). He was married to Jane Margaret Story. He died on February 4, 1985 in Ojai, ...

11. Paul Landres

Director | Navy Bound

Attended UCLA for two years but dropped out to enter the film industry.

12. Sidney Lanfield

Director | Hush Money

After a stint as a jazz musician and a vaudeville entertainer, Sidney Lanfield was hired by Fox Film Corp. in 1926 as a gag writer and brought to Hollywood. Making his debut as a director in 1930, he specialized in romances and light comedies, directing many of Bob Hope's films in the 1930s and ...

13. Joseph H. Lewis

Director | Gun Crazy

The term "style over content" fits director Joseph H. Lewis like a glove. His ability to elevate basically mundane and mediocre low-budget material to sublime cinematic art has gained him a substantial cult following among movie buffs. The Bonnie & Clyde look-alike Gun Crazy (1950), shot in 30 days...

14. George Blair

Director | Daredevils of the Clouds

George Blair was born on December 6, 1905 in Newfield, England as George William Blair. He was a director and assistant director, known for Daredevils of the Clouds (1948), Scotland Yard Investigator (1945) and Rose of the Yukon (1949). He died on April 19, 1970 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

15. Harold D. Schuster

Director | Wings of the Morning

A highly regarded editor (he cut the classic Sunrise (1927) ), Harold D. Schuster started out in films as an actor. It didn't take him long to abandon that career, and he turned to the production side of the business, working his way up to editor and eventually taking the reins as a director. While...

16. Lambert Hillyer

Director | Batman

A former journalist who came from a show-business family--his mother was actress Lydia Knott--western specialist Lambert Hillyer entered films in 1917. After becoming a director, he soon teamed up with cowboy actor William S. Hart for a series of westerns that resulted in making Hart a star, for ...

17. Wallace Fox

Director | Trapped in Tia Juana

Director Wallace Fox has sort of been forgotten in time, though he does have a few films that have become cult favorites. There isn't much known on Wallace Fox, but he was born March 9th, 1895 in Purcell, Oklahoma and he began directing in the silent era and his first film was the Bandit's Son from...

18. Ida Lupino

Actress | High Sierra

Ida was born in London to a show business family. In 1933, her mother brought Ida with her to an audition and Ida got the part her mother wanted. The picture was Her First Affaire (1932). Ida, a bleached blonde, came to Hollywood in 1934 and played small and insignificant parts. Peter Ibbetson (...

19. Howard Bretherton

Director | While London Sleeps

Former propman Howard Bretherton was one of the legion of unknown directors who made the films--mostly westerns--that generations of kids trudged to see at the Saturday afternoon matinées. Bretherton's long career as an action/western director began in the late 1920s and ended more than 25 years ...

20. Will Jason

Soundtrack | Mighty Aphrodite

Entering the film industry at age 13, Will Jason performed a variety of jobs, including scoring several films, before turning to directing. His output was mostly routine, consisting of low-budget horror movies, light comedies and an "Arabian Nights" adventure or two. Unlike many B directors, though...

21. Leigh Jason

Director | Metropolitan Nocturne

Leigh Jason (born Leigh Jacobson) was an instructor at UCLA before entering the film business in 1924 as an electrician. He turned to screenwriting in 1926, then changed his name to Leigh Jason when he started directing in 1928. He turned out numerous shorts and B pictures, mainly thrillers and ...

22. H. Bruce Humberstone

Director | Wonder Man

A juvenile actor, Bruce Humberstone started his career as a script clerk, later serving as assistant director for the likes of King Vidor, Edmund Goulding and Allan Dwan. One of the 28 founders of the Directors Guild of America, Humberstone worked in a number of capacities on several silent films. ...

23. James Tinling

Director | Trouble Preferred

Veteran second-feature director of the 1930s and '40s, a former prop boy and stuntman. Worked primarily for 20th Century=Fox, turning out unassuming, lightweight entertainments, including entries in the Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto series.

24. Jack Hively

Director | They Made Her a Spy

Jack Hively was born on September 5, 1910. He was a director and editor, known for They Made Her a Spy (1939), They Met in Argentina (1941) and One Step Beyond (1959). He died on December 19, 1995 in Hollywood, California, USA.

25. Felix E. Feist

Director | The Golden Gloves Story

Felix E. Feist was born on February 28, 1910 in New York City, New York, USA as Felix Ellison Feist. He was a producer and director, known for The Golden Gloves Story (1950), The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947) and Donovan's Brain (1953). He was married to Lisa Howard. He died on September 2, 1965 in ...

26. George Waggner

Director | South of Tahiti

George Waggner was born on September 7, 1894 in New York City, New York, USA as George Waggoner. He was a director and writer, known for South of Tahiti (1941), Man Made Monster (1941) and Ghost Town Riders (1938). He was married to Danny Shannon. He died on December 11, 1984 in Hollywood, ...

27. Leslie Goodwins

Director | Dragnet

London-born Leslie Goodwins broke into Hollywood in the 1930s as a gag writer for two-reel comedies, and later directed several of them. He started directing features in 1936, specializing in knockabout comedies. Goodwins spent much of his career at RKO, and was responsible for the Leon Errol / ...

29. William F. Claxton

Director | Half Past Midnight

William F. Claxton was born on October 22, 1914 in Los Angeles County, California, USA. He was a director and producer, known for Half Past Midnight (1948), Desire in the Dust (1960) and The Twilight Zone (1959). He died on February 11, 1996 in Santa Monica, California.

30. Louis King

Director | The Arm of the Law

Sometimes billed as Lewis King, he specialized in directing B-grade westerns and adventure films at FBO, Paramount and 20th Century-Fox. Had a flair for outdoors pictures. Powder River (1953) and The Lion and the Horse (1952) are good examples of his work.

31. John Brahm

Director | The Twilight Zone

The son of comedian and theatre director Ludwig Brahm, Hans followed in his father's footsteps and began his career on the stages of Vienna, Berlin and Paris. Again, like his father, he graduated to directing and had his first fling with the film business as a dialogue director for a Franco/German ...

32. Edward Ludwig

Director | Caribbean

Russian-born Edward Ludwig came to the U.S. as a child and was educated in Canada and New York City. He entered the film business as an actor in silents, then became a scenarist and screenwriter, and in the early 1930s turned to directing. Although most of his films were routine second features, he...

33. Lewis Allen

Director | The 20th Century-Fox Hour

Born in England on Christmas Day, 1905, Lewis Allen first came on the show-biz scene when he was appointed executive in charge of West End and Broadway stage productions for famed impresario Gilbert Miller. Allen also co-directed some of the productions (including the celebrated "Victoria Regina" ...

35. Stuart Heisler

Director | Saturday Island

Director Stuart Heisler began his film-industry career as a prop man in 1913, joining Mack Sennett at Keystone the following year. He worked as an editor for Samuel Goldwyn at United Artists from 1924-25 and again from 1929-34 and at Paramount from 1935-36. He graduated to second-unit director with ...

36. William D. Russell

Director | You Are There

American director, with Paramount (1945-48) and subsequently worked in episodic television.

37. Seymour Friedman

Director | Criminal Lawyer

Born in Detroit, Cambridge-educated Seymour Friedman entered films in 1937 as an assistant editor, eventually graduating to assistant director. After WW II service, he returned to the film industry as a director, mainly of routine, low-budget action films, many for Columbia Pictures, debuting with ...

38. William A. Seiter

Director | The Cheerful Fraud

Originally a writer and artist, William A. Seiter entered films with Selig. He worked from 1915 as a stunt double and bit player at Keystone and quickly graduated to directing comedy shorts. He moved up to features in the 1920s. He married actress Laura La Plante, who he directed in several films, ...

39. D. Ross Lederman

Director | Case of the Missing Man

Starting out as an extra in Mack Sennett's Keystone Kops series, D. Ross Lederman worked his way through the ranks of film production, and made his mark as a second-unit director. Becoming a feature director in the late 1920s, he specialized in action films and especially westerns, turning out a ...

40. Erle C. Kenton

Director | The Ghost of Frankenstein

Erle C. Kenton entered films as an actor with the Mack Sennett troupe (he was one of the original Keystone Kops). In addition to acting, he performed pretty much any kind of behind-the-scenes job he could get, and by 1919 Sennett gave him a job directing two-reel comedies. The next year he ...

41. Norman Foster

Director | Letter to Loretta

Norman Foster was born on December 13, 1903 in Richmond, Indiana, USA as Norman Foster Hoeffer. He was a director and actor, known for The Loretta Young Show (1953), I Cover Chinatown (1936) and Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939). He was married to Sally Blane and Claudette Colbert. He died on July 7...

42. Vincent Sherman

Director | Affair in Trinidad

Vincent Sherman was born on July 16, 1906 in Vienna, Georgia, USA as Abraham Orovitz. He was a director and actor, known for Affair in Trinidad (1952), All Through the Night (1942) and Adventures of Don Juan (1948). He was married to Hedda Comoro. He died on June 18, 2006 in Woodland Hills, Los ...

43. Ralph Murphy

Director | I misteri della giungla nera

Ralph Murphy was born on May 1, 1895 in Rockville, Connecticut, USA. He was a director and writer, known for Mystery of the Black Jungle (1954), Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch (1942) and Night Club Scandal (1937). He was married to Maryon Curtis and Gloria Dickson. He died on February 10, 1967 in ...

44. Philip Ford

Director | Prisoners in Petticoats

Philip Ford was born on October 16, 1900 in Portland, Maine, USA as Philip Feeney. He was a director and assistant director, known for Prisoners in Petticoats (1950), Web of Danger (1947) and The Invisible Informer (1946). He died on January 12, 1976 in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA.

45. Albert S. Rogell

Director | The Wrecker

Born in Oklahoma City, Albert Rogell moved with his family to Spokane, WA, when he was a child. At 15 he got a job with the Washington Motion Picture Co. Having gotten a taste of the film business, he headed to Los Angeles after the company went bankrupt, and had a succession of jobs before joining...

46. Wesley Barry

Producer | Racing Blood

A Hollywood native (born there in 1907), seven-year-old Wesley Barry was spotted by a director at Kalem who was taken with the boy's face full of freckles, and he went on to become one of the most popular child actors in the business. Barry had been making picture for several years when director ...

47. Alfred E. Green

Director | The Jolson Story

One of the more prolific American directors, Alfred E. Green entered films in 1912 as an actor for the Selig Polyscope Co. He became an assistant to director Colin Campbell and started directing two-reelers, turning to features in 1917. His career lasted into the mid-1950s but his output was mostly...

48. Mitchell Leisen

Director | Death Takes a Holiday

Mitchell Leisen was born on October 6, 1898 in Menominee, Michigan, USA as James Mitchell Leisen. He was a director and art director, known for Death Takes a Holiday (1934), The Mating Season (1951) and Hold Back the Dawn (1941). He was married to Sandra Gahle. He died on October 28, 1972 in ...

49. Virgil W. Vogel

Editor | Touch of Evil

Virgil W. Vogel began his career at Universal in 1940 as an assistant editor. He worked as an editor for many years, although by the mid-'50s he had begun to tire of the job and pressed Universal executive Edward Muhl for a shot at directing. Vogel was handed The Mole People (1956) with John Agar, ...

51. Duncan Mansfield

Director | Girl Loves Boy

W. Duncan Mansfield started his career in the film industry as an editor for pioneering producer/director Thomas H. Ince. He later directed, produced and worked on several compilation films with comedian Harold Lloyd. He also did a lot of work in television, editing such shows as M Squad (1957), ...

52. Benjamin H. Kline

Cinematographer | Guard That Girl

Brother-in-law of director Phil Rosen.

53. Benjamin Stoloff

Director | The Hidden Hand

A UCLA graduate, Ben Stoloff started his career as a comedy short director for Fox Films, and later became a feature director for such western icons as Tom Mix and Buck Jones. He also directed a number of musicals for Fox and was a producer and director of features, mostly "B" pictures, and shorts ...

54. Charles Lamont

Director | Cipher Bureau

One of the more prolific American directors, Charles Lamont entered films as an actor in 1919 and became a director in 1922. He churned out numerous one- and two-reel comedies for various producers, including Mack Sennett and Al Christie, and began directing features in the mid-'30s. Lamont was a ...

55. George Sherman

Producer | The Comancheros

American second feature director George Sherman arrived in California aboard the SS Mongolia (bound from New York City, where he was born), on which he served as a bellboy. He began his career in the movie business in the mail room at Warner Brothers before working his way up to assistant director....

56. Herbert I. Leeds

Director | Just Off Broadway

Herbert I. Leeds was a journeyman film editor before turning director in 1937. Many of his films were made for 20th Century-Fox, and his training as an editor was evident in the efficiency and tight pacing of his films. Although he started out making westerns, he soon turned to mysteries and ...

57. Bretaigne Windust

Director | The Enforcer

Son of English violinist Ernest Joseph Windust. Attended Columbia and Princeton University, where he first developed an interest in the theatre. Assistant stage manager with the New York Theatre Guild from 1929.

58. Abner Biberman

Actor | His Girl Friday

Abner Biberman was born on April 1, 1909 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA as Abner Warren Biberman. He was a director and actor, known for His Girl Friday (1940), Winchester '73 (1950) and The Golden Mistress (1954). He was married to Sibil Kamban (editor), Helen Churchill Dalby and Tolbie Snyderman. ...

59. Joseph Santley

Director | Down Mexico Way

Joseph Santley was born on January 10, 1889 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA as Joseph Mansfield. He was a director and producer, known for Down Mexico Way (1941), Harmony Lane (1935) and Million Dollar Baby (1934). He was married to Ivy Sawyer. He died on August 8, 1971 in West Los Angeles, California...

60. Jerry Hopper

Director | The Private War of Major Benson

Third wife Dorothy was a classically trained pianist who worked with several famous composers before her death.

61. John Rawlins

Director | Shark River

Director John Rawlins started in films in 1918 as an actor, stunt man, gag writer and assistant director. For a while he sidelined as a comedy writer, then became an editor and later directed second features for First National in Britain from the early 1930s. Returning to the US, he joined ...

62. Ray Nazarro

Writer | Bullfighter and the Lady

Boston-born Ray Nazarro began his movie career in the silent-film era, where he often worked as an assistant director. He started his directing career in 1932, beginning with shorts and graduating to low-budget quickie features for Poverty Row studios. He alternated between directing shorts and an ...

63. James B. Clark

Director | Island of the Blue Dolphins

American editor and director, a graduate of Ohio University. Began his career in his family's restaurant business, before moving to Hollywood in 1937. The following year he joined 20th Century Fox as editor and worked on several classic films. He remained with the studio until 1961, from the mid-50...

64. Don Weis

Director | Schlitz Playhouse of Stars

Milwaukee-born Don Weis began as a director of light-hearted, often youth-oriented entertainment. After graduating in film studies from the University of Southern California in 1942, he got his first job as an errand boy at Warner Brothers. He saw wartime service as a technician with the 1st Motion...

65. Joseph M. Newman

Director | Flight to Hong Kong

Joseph M. Newman worked his way up from office boy and clerk to writer and assistant director under George Cukor, Ernst Lubitsch and others. In 1937 he was briefly assigned to MGM's British section as a second unit director, but returned home within the year to direct short features. His occasional...

66. George Marshall

Director | How the West Was Won

George Marshall was a versatile American director who came to Hollywood to visit his mother and "have a bit of fun". Expelled from Chicago University in 1912, he was an unsettled young man, drifting from job to job, variously employed as a mechanic, newspaper reporter and lumberjack with a logging ...

67. A. Edward Sutherland

Director | Sky Devils

British-born A. Edward ("Eddie") Sutherland started in vaudeville and acted in films from 1914 at Keystone (he was one of the original Keystone Kops). He became a director in 1925, first with Paramount (1925-31), then at United Artists (1931-32), again with Paramount (1933, 1935-37), then Universal...

68. Eugene Forde

Director | The Big Diamond Robbery

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, on November 8, 1896, director Eugene Forde began his industry career as a child actor on the legitimate stage. He left the business in the early 1920s, but in 1926 came back as a writer/director. He was one of the mainstays at the 20th Century-Fox "B" unit starting...

69. Harold Young

Director | Song of the Sarong

Harold Young was born on November 13, 1897 in Portland, Oregon, USA. He was a director and editor, known for Song of the Sarong (1945), Newsboys' Home (1938) and The Storm (1938). He was married to Emily. He died on March 3, 1972 in Beverly Hills, California, USA.

71. Charles F. Haas

Producer | Moonrise

Harvard-educated Charles Haas entered films in 1935 as an extra at Universal. He was soon promoted to assistant director, then branched out into directing documentaries and industrial films. During WW II he made training films for the Army Signal Corps. After the war he went back to work for ...

72. Philip Leacock

Director | Gunsmoke

Philip Leacock was brought up in the Canary Islands and educated at the English boarding school Bedales. He began in the film industry as a camera assistant in 1935. After serving with the Army Kinematograph Service during World War II, he joined the Crown Film Unit in 1948, making his directing ...

73. Robert B. Sinclair

Director | The Detectives

Brutally stabbed to death by a prowler while protecting his wife at his Montecito, California home on January 3, 1970. The prowler, Billy McCoy Hunter, was a University of California--Santa Barbara (UCSB) graduate student. His wife, actress Heather Angel who witnessed the homicide, was unhurt.

74. Harmon Jones

Editorial_department | Gentleman's Agreement

Harmon Jones started his career as a film editor at 20th Century-Fox, where he was entrusted with many of the studio's top projects (Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Sitting Pretty (1948), Anna and the King of Siam (1946)), but when he turned to directing feature films, his output was far less ...

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