Ralph Ince

Ralph Waldo Ince (January 16, 1887 April 10, 1937) was an American pioneer film actor, director and screenwriter whose career began near the dawn of the silent film era. Ralph Ince was the brother of John Ince and Thomas H. Ince.

Ralph Ince
Moving Picture World, 1919
Ralph Waldo Ince

(1887-01-16)January 16, 1887
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
DiedApril 10, 1937(1937-04-10) (aged 50)
London, England
OccupationFilm director, actor, screenwriter
Years active1907–1937
Lucille Lee Stewart
(m. 1910; div. 1925)

Rosa Castro (es)
(m. 1926; div. 1932)

Helen Tigges
(m. 1932)
RelativesJohn Ince (brother)
Thomas H. Ince (brother)


Ralph Ince was born in Boston, Massachusetts,[1] the younger of three sons and a daughter raised by English immigrants, John and Emma Ince. Sometime after his birth Ince moved to Manhattan where his entire family was engaged in theater work; his father as a musical agent and mother, sister Bertha and brothers, John and Thomas as actors.[2] Ralph Ince studied art with cartoonist Dan McCarthy and for a while worked as a newspaper cartoonist for the New York World and later magazine illustrator for the New York Mirror and The Evening Telegram. At times over his acting and directing career Ince would continue to contribute cartoons to popular magazines of the day. Early on in his career Ince, who had done some stage acting as a child, was a member of Richard Mansfield's stock company playing parts in The College Widow and Ben Hur.[3][4]

Around 1906 Ince became an animator in the fledgling film industry working for Winsor McCay, but soon turned to acting and joined Vitagraph Studios where he became known for his portrayals of Abraham Lincoln in a series of one reel films.[3][4] Ince began directing at Vitagraph around 1910 and was officially advanced to the director's chair in 1912, though he still continued to act in many of his films and throughout his career.[5] Ince would go on to direct some 171 films between 1910 and 1937 and appear in approximately 110 films over nearly the same time period.[6]


Ince married three times, first to Vitagraph player Lucille Lee Stewart, sister of actress Anita Stewart. Their fifteen-year marriage ended in 1925, two years after she had left him.[7] The following year he married Rosa Castro (es) (stage name Lucille Mendez), an 18-year-old Venezuelan stage and screen actress, daughter of Venezuelan President Cipriano Castro. This union ended in 1932 after she claimed Ince damaged her career by not allowing her to accept certain job offers.[8] Ince's last wife was Helen Ruth Tigges, a native of Frazee, Minnesota. She was the mother of his only child, born just months before his death at age fifty.[9]


Ralph Ince died on April 10, 1937, when a car his wife was driving struck an iron standard near their residence in the Kensington district of London, England. The force of the impact, though not great, proved fatal to Ince when his head struck the dashboard. Helen Ince suffered cuts and bruises that required hospitalization. Ince and his wife had moved to Britain shortly after they had married in 1932 to continue his film work there.[9]

Selected filmography

As director

As actor


  1. "Ralph Ince - U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 - Ancestry.com". ancestry.com.
  2. 1900 US Census Records, Ancestry.com
  3. Motion Picture Studio Directory and Trade Annual, 1921, p. 267 – Ancestry.com
  4. Encyclopedia of Early Cinema.
  5. The Motion Picture Story Magazine; August 1912, p. 132
  6. Ralph Ince on IMDb
  7. "Ralph Ince Seeks Divorce," Portsmouth Daily Times (Portsmouth, Ohio), April 10, 1925, p. 22
  8. "Lucille Mendes Divorces Ince," Syracuse Herald, April 3, 1932, p. 14
  9. "Ralph Ince Killed In Crash In London". The New York Times. April 12, 1937. p. 1.
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