Climbing Out from Poverty On January 22, 1875, Jacob Wark Griffith and Mary Perkins Oglesby became the parents of David Wark Griffith (Drew, 2002). David was born in Crestwood, Kentucky to a an “impoverished family” (Henderson, 2010, p.1)…
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David's father, also called “Roaring Jake,” was a Confederate Civil War veteran, who influenced his son with his love for the romantic and dramatic, as well as Jeffersonian goals and values (Drew, 2002). His father's animating stories about Mexican and the Civil Wars fired his son's imagination (Henderson, 2010, p.1), where David remembered that his stories “burned right into [his]memory” (Lang, 1994, p.25). David's southern upbringing, which meant defeat during the Civil War, has also likely affected his hatred for imperialism and wars, which manifested later on in his films (Henderson, 2010, p.1 ). David grew up in the “Lofty Green” farm, where he obtained his early education from his older sister, Mattie, who was a school teacher (Henderson, 2010, p.1). In a single-room country school, David and his peers read the classics of “Dickens, Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott” (Henderson, 2010, p.1).When David was ten years old, his father died. Life became more difficult for the Griffiths, after they learned that Jake, who was believed to be a gambler, mortgaged their farm and left them with numerous debts (Lang, 1994, p.25). ...
He worked at the J.C. Lewis Dry Goods Store for more than two years, then as a clerk at Flexner's Book Store, the city's most famous book shop and a well-known “intellectual center” (Lang, 1994, p.26). As a bookshop clerk, David indulged his love for reading, art, music, and theater (Lang, 1994, p.26). Even after Flexners was sold to a new owner, David stayed with the latter for some time, before leaving to pursue his career in theater. His mother disapproved this move greatly, but David decided to join a touring company, where he worked in several small productions that traveled the small towns of Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, and North Dakota (Lang, 1994, p.26). During this time, he continued to work on different and physical jobs, such as shoveling ore (Drew, 2002). He also wrote during play rehearsals, when he was not performing. In 1889, David moved to New York. In 1906, David married Linda Arvidson, who was also a stage actress. David's dream to become a playwright had its chance when he produced his play, “A Fool and a Girl” (Drew, 2002). When this play flopped, David and his wife turned to the new motion picture industry as their source of income (Drew, 2002). Griffith started his work in film at 1907 by acting in Rescued from an Eagle’s Nest, a film directed by Edwin S. Porter for the Edison Company and shown in theaters in 1908 (Drew, 2002). Griffith eventually transferred to the Biograph Company in New York City, where he both acted and wrote stories (Drew, 2002). David showed interest in directing and when Biograph's full-time director, George McCutcheon got sick, the job of directing The Adventures of Dollie was offered to David (Lang, 1994, p.27). David accepted the assignment and Linda acted as Dollie's mother (Lang, 1994, p.27).
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