William Beaudine (January 15, 1892 – March 18, 1970) was an American film actor and director. He was one of Hollywood's most prolific directors, turning out films in remarkable numbers and in a wide variety of genres.
Silents and British films
Born in New York City, Beaudine began his career as an actor in 1909 with American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. He married Marguerite Fleischer in 1914, whom he stayed married to until his death.
In 1915, he was hired as an actor as well as a director by the Kalem Company. He was an assistant to director D.W. Griffith on the films The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance. By the time he was 23, Beaudine had directed his first picture, a short called Almost a King (1915).
Beaudine worked as a director of silent films for Goldwyn (before MGM), Metro (also before MGM), First National Pictures, Principal, and Warner Brothers. In 1926, he made Sparrows, the story of orphans imprisoned in a swamp farm, starring Mary Pickford. Beaudine had at least 30 pictures to his credit before the sound era began.
He ground out several movies annually for Fox, Warner Brothers, Paramount, and Universal. His most famous credit of the early 1930s is The Old-Fashioned Way, a comedy about old-time show folks starring W. C. Fields.
Beaudine was one of a number of experienced directors who were brought to England from Hollywood in the 1930s to work on what were in all other respects very British productions; others included Raoul Walsh and Allan Dwan. There, he directed four films starring Will Hay including Boys Will Be Boys (1935) and Where There's a Will (1936).
Beaudine returned permanently to America in 1937 and evidently had trouble re-establishing himself at the major studios. After a brief stint at Warner Brothers, he found work on Poverty Row, working for Monogram Pictures and Producers Releasing Corporation. making dozens of comedies, thrillers, and melodramas with such popular personalities as Bela Lugosi, Harry Langdon, Ralph Byrd, Edmund Lowe, Jean Parker, and The East Side Kids. Beaudine completed these features in a matter of days, sometimes as few as five. One of these quickies was Mom and Dad, an exploitation film produced by Kroger Babb that was released in 1945.
The authors of the 1978 book The 50 Worst Films of All Time gave Beaudine the unflattering nickname "One Shot," because he always seemed to shoot just one take, regardless of actors flubbing their lines or special effects going haywire. It is true that Beaudine shot economically -- he usually had no choice -- but he was always professional, and actually did shoot multiple takes of movie scenes. (The "coming attractions" trailers of Beaudine's films often contain alternate takes.)
Beaudine was often entrusted with series films, including those of Torchy Blane, The East Side Kids, Jiggs and Maggie, The Shadow, Charlie Chan, and The Bowery Boys. Beaudine's efficiency was so pronounced that Walt Disney hired him to direct some of his television projects of the 1950s. Beaudine became even busier in TV, directing Naked City, The Green Hornet, and dozens of Lassie episodes.
His last two feature films, both released in 1966, were the horror-westerns Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (with John Carradine) and Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter. By the end of the decade he was the industry's oldest working professional, having started in 1909.
Beaudine died in 1970 in California and was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood.