Rupert Julian: Pioneering Director from Down Under

A wink and a nod to silent screen actor/director Rupert Julian (Percival Hayes, 1879-1943). How appropriate that his birthday falls on Australia Day eve, for, though he was actually from New Zealand, he criss-crossed Australia with a number of traveling stock companies between 1903 and 1911. That year he moved to New York with his wife, actress Elsie Jane Wilson. There he acted at Daly’s Theatre, and later he played Antony to Tyrone Power Sr’s Julius Caesar on tour. Also, he starred in the 1912 production of Monsieur Beaucaire. 

By 1913 he was in the film business as act an actor; he began directing the following year. His best known projects as director include The Kaiser, The Beast of Berlin (1918) which he wrote, directed, produced and starred in; Merry-Go-Round (1923, he took over the direction when Erich Von Stroheim was fired); The Phantom of the Opera (1925), The Leopard Lady (1928), Love Comes Along (1930), and The Cat Creeps (1930). The last couple were talkies, but the new innovation seems not to have agreed with him, and at any rate he was in his 60s. After this he retired. There is a beautiful website devoted to Rupert Julian here.

For more on silent film please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.