Thomas Harper Ince was a giant in the early days of silent films.
He began directing shorts in 1911 and was particularly known for his Westerns, many starring cowboy star William S. Hart.
After 1916 he focused mostly on producing and supervising. He was a partner with D.W. Griffith and Mack Sennett in the Triangle Film Corporation, built the Culver City studios which later became the legendary home of MGM, and developed many of the production and business techniques which grew into the Hollywood studio system.
Ince is also known for his untimely 1924 death aboard the yacht of William Randolph Hearst; officially he died of heart trouble, but Hollywood rumor of the time suggested he had been shot by Hearst in a dispute over actress Marion Davies.