Rex Hitchcock – actor and scriptwriter
In 1913 Rex was invited to stay with his room mate, Horace Newsome, in Long Island, New York. There he met a neighbour, Charles Edison, son of the famous Thomas Alva Edison, and heir to a considerable fortune. Just three years Rex’s senior, Charles was like him, a rebel, with a taste for avant-garde entertainment and bohemian life that was to try his father sorely (it was a brief phase - later he became the United States Secretary of the Navy, and the 42nd Governor of New Jersey). Rex and Horace went to see A Tale of Two Cities, produced by Vitagraph in 1911 and directed by William Humphrey.
The film had already been well-reviewed, with critics particularly finding praise for the film’s sumptuous staging and its fidelity to Dickens’ original. Many years later, Rex would himself return to the turbulent years of the French Revolution in Scaramouche, a film that was equally lauded for its decor and its faithfulness to the original. And in a nod to his first viewing experience, he cast the director of A Tale of Two Cities in the role of the Chevalier de Chabrillone.
For now, Rex was smitten by the new medium and talked himself into a menial job with the Edison company who, like the main production companies of the day, was based in New York. There he moved easily between backstage jobs and acting, with his extraordinary good lucks guaranteeing him a future, it seemed, in front of the camera. His acting career began with small parts in Beau Brummel (James Young, 1913) and The Artist's Great Madonna (Van Dyke Brooke, 1913). By 1914, he was appearing in starring roles - in The Witness to the Will (George Lessey, 1914), he is one of the lead characters. At Edison, he also wrote his first script, The Family Honor, in 1913.
In mid-1914, Rex moved briefly to Vitagraph where he appeared in The Spirit and the Clay, suitably cast as a sculptor. Other roles followed but it wasn’t long before he was on the move again, this time to the Fox Film Corporation. By now his reputation was growing and the move was reported in the trade press. Always a hard worker, Rex settled in swiftly at Fox and wrote a steady stream of scripts and scenarios including The Galley Slave (J. Gordon Edwards, 1915) for Theda Bara; but before long he was to clash with Fox’s top executives and move on again, this time to The Universal Film Manufacturing Company to work under Carl Laemmle. While still at Fox, he changed his name to Rex Ingram in honour of his mother.