Fred J. Balshofer

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Fred J. Balshofer
Fred J Balshofer.JPG
Who's Who in the Film World, 1914
Born (1877-11-02)November 2, 1877
New York City
Died June 21, 1969(1969-06-21) (aged 91)
Calabasas, California
Resting place Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery
Occupation Cinematographer

Fred J. Balshofer (November 2, 1877 – June 21, 1969) was an American pioneer silent film director, producer, screenwriter, and cinematographer.


Born in New York City, Balshofer became interested in the photography business at an early age and eventually worked as a stereoscopic-slide photographer. Drawn to the fledgling motion picture business, from 1905 to 1908 he worked at Lubin Studios in Philadelphia.

Hired by Adam Kessel of the New York Motion Picture Company, in 1909 Fred Balshofer directed his first film called "Disinherited Son's Loyalty" on which he also served as cinematographer. That same year he directed Davy Crockett – In Hearts United, believed to be the first Davy Crockett movie ever made. Filming at the time centered mainly around facilities and locations in the Fort Lee, New Jersey area but within a few years Balshofer moved to the West Coast as General Manager of the New York Motion Picture Company, directing western films for their subsidiary, Bison Motion Pictures until Thomas H. Ince joined the studio. In early 1914 Balshofer left NYMPC and became the head of the Sterling Motion Picture Company, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures.[1][2] Sterling ceased production in early 1915[3] and a few months later Balshofer joined Quality Pictures, a subsidiary of Metro Pictures.[4] By 1916, Balshofer was president and general manager of the Yorke-Metro studios at 1329 Gordon St. in Hollywood. In the 1920s, he produced and directed films for his own production company.

During his career, Fred Balshofer produced and/or directed more than eighty silent films then, after an unsuccessful attempt at age fifty directing a Spanish language talkie, he spent the better part of his remaining career working as a studio executive. In 1967 he teamed up with friend and acclaimed cinematographer Arthur C. Miller to write a significant book on the film industry under the title "One Reel a Week." Published by the University of California Press, the book chronicled the early history of the motion picture industry, including the shift in location and facilities from the East Coast to Southern California and the rise of the western film genre.

Selected Filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "President Laemmle at the Coast", Moving Picture World: 1097, 28 February 1914, retrieved 5 December 2013 
  2. ^ ""Sterling" will be Brand Name", Motion Picture News: 24, 11 April 1914, retrieved 5 December 2013 
  3. ^ "The Sterling Co. has ceased production...", Moving Picture World: 503, 23 January 1915, retrieved 5 December 2013 
  4. ^ "Quality Pictures Corporation", Moving Picture World: 240, 10 July 1915, retrieved 5 December 2013 

External links[edit]