Ralph Graves
(01/23/1900 - 02/18/1977)

Born Ralph Horsburgh

In films from the age of 17, American actor Ralph Graves was a handsome, strapping young man who was most comfortable in comedy. Graves enjoyed a long-term contract with Mack Sennett studios in the early '20s, where he was one of the few stars that wasn't a "grotesque." Indeed, many of Graves' Sennett two-reelers are romantic comedy-dramas, with virtually no slapstick.

During his Sennett stint, Graves befriended studio gagman Frank Capra. Upon graduating to director, Capra reciprocated Grave's kindnesses by casting him in leading-man roles in several Columbia silent features. From 1928 through 1931, Graves was co-starred with Jack Holt in a group of rugged Capra-directed adventure films, in which the two stars were usually at each other's throats over a pretty girl. Capra continued top-billing Graves in his earliest talking films, even though the actor's flat, colorless speaking voice didn't match his "up and at 'em" screen personality.

But Graves was never fully dedicated to acting anyway; a frustrated writer, he was forever pushing his story ideas upon studio executives. Occasionally he'd be allowed to direct as well as write his own silent vehicles (Rich Men's Sons [1926], Fatal Warning [1928]); Graves also contributed the script for one of his Capra films, Flight (1928).

In talkies, Graves continued pursuing his writing career, turning producer for a few minor features towards the end of the '30s. In his last screen appearances, which he accepted in order to finance his producing assignments, it is apparent that Ralph Graves had lost most of his enthusiasm for reciting lines. Playing the lead in the serial The Black Coin (1935), Graves at one point says "The plane's on fire!" in a tone of bored disinterest, just as if the plane caught fire every day around this time.

Available Films

Scarlet Days (1919)

The Greatest Question (1919)

Dream Street (1921)

The Family Outing (Short)