Like many actresses working in the motion picture industry in the mid-1910s, Ruth Stonehouse’s chance to direct her own films came more as a result of the increased production schedule at Universal Pictures than as a result of studio mogul Carl Laemmle’s progressive attitudes toward women (Slide 1977, 41). Like other “Universal Women” such as Cleo Madison, Lule Warrenton, and Elsie Jane Wilson, Stonehouse was a hard-working actress before the chance to direct arose. Acting in hundreds of early comic films, writing six and directing ten of these, Stonehouse was involved in film production from a very early date. Asked about her ambitions in a 1919 Motion Picture Magazine interview, Stonehouse replied: “We-ll, of course I do want to be a star… for a while… but eventually I want to be a directress, a producer; I want to be in the business end of it, that is, at the same time, the artistic end of it” (104). Perhaps the sheer number of her acting roles helps to explain the survival of some of the films in which she had parts, as a matter of odds increased by volume as well as by her long tenure in the industry, from 1907 to 1928.
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