Rex Ingram was a film director, producer, writer and actor. Legendary director Erich von Stroheim once called him “the world’s greatest director.”
Born Reginald Ingram Montgomery Hitchcock in Dublin, Ireland, the son of a clergyman. He was educated at Saint Columba’s College, near Rathfarnam, County Dublin. He spent most of his adolescent life living in the Old Rectory, Kinnity, Birr, County Offaly where his father was the Church of Ireland rector. He emigrated to the United States in 1911. His brother Francis Clere Hitchcock went on to join the British army and fought during World War I where he was awarded the Military Cross and rose to the rank of Colonel.
Ingram studied sculpture at the Yale University School of Art, but soon moved into film, first taking acting work from 1913 and then writing, producing and directing. His first work as producer-director was in 1916 on the romantic drama The Great Problem. He worked for Edison Studios, Fox Film Corporation, Vitagraph Studios, and then MGM, directing mainly action or supernatural films. In 1920 he moved to Metro, where he was under supervision of executive June Mathis. Mathis and Ingram would go on to make 4 films together, “Hearts are Trump”, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, “The Conquering Power”, and “Turn to the Right”. It is believed the two held a romantic relationship which ended when Ingram eloped with Alice Terry in 1921. Ingram and Mathis had begun to grow distant when her new find, Rudolph Valentino began to overshadow his own fame.
He married twice, first to actress Doris Pawn in 1917; this ended in divorce in 1920. He then married Alice Terry in 1921 with whom he remained for the rest of his life. In 1925, Ingram and Fred Niblo directed the hugely successful epic Ben-Hur, filming parts of it in Italy. He and his wife decided to move to the French Riviera. They formed a small studio in Nice and made several films on location in North Africa, Spain, and Italy for MGM and others.