William Christy Cabanne (William Christy Cabanne)

William Christy Cabanne

Cabanne (pronounced “CAB-a-nay”) graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, and spent several years in the Navy, leaving the service in 1908. He decided on a career in the theater, and became a director as well as an actor. Although acting was his main profession, when he finally broke into the film industry it was chiefly as a director after appearing in over 40 short films between 1911 and 1914. He signed on with the Fine Arts Co., then was employed as an assistant to D.W. Griffith. Miriam Cooper credited him with discovering her as an extra in 1912.

Being a published author, he was hired by Metro Pictures to write a serial. After that he formed his own production company, but was shut down only a few years later. He then became a director for hire, mainly of low- to medium-budget films for such studios as FBO, Associated Exhibitors, Tiffany and Pathe, although he worked at MGM on a few occasions in the mid- to late 1920s on films such as The Midshipman (1925). Cabanne directed legendary child actress Shirley Temple in The Red-Haired Alibi (1932) in her first ever credited role in a feature length movie. ┬áIn the 1930s he made many films with Universal. By the 1940s he continued to direct Universal’s popular B pictures, and made himself available to low-budget, independent producers. In 1944 he directed a Bela Lugosi thriller, Scared to Death, which was experimental in that it was photographed on semi-professional, economical 16mm color film. (Robert L. Lippert released it on standard 35mm film in 1947.)

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  • April, 16, 1888
  • USA
  • St. Louis, Missouri


  • October, 16, 1950
  • USA
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park
  • Los Angeles, California
  • USA

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