Hill, George: Director of The Big House–Not Nominated for Oscar (Suicide)

George William Hill was born on April 25, 1895; he died on August 10, 1934, at the age of 39.

He began his film career at age 13 as a stagehand with director D. W. Griffith. A cinematographer of silent films, he worked on a series of features for Mae Marsh and others in the years following World War I and was eventually recruited by the burgeoning major studios to be a director, beginning in 1920.

Hill’s directing career gained momentum, when he used top stars such as Marion Davies and Jackie Coogan. Hill directed Lon Chaney’s biggest money-maker, Tell It to the Marines (1926). Wallace Beery headed the cast of Hill’s most memorable film, The Big House (1930), a stark prison drama and major sound film.

He worked with his wife, screenwriter Frances Marion; they were married in 1930 and divorced in 1933.

Min and Bill (1931), which paired Beery and Marie Dressler as alcoholic tugboat owner-operators, again with a script by Marion, made both Beery and Dressler into MGM’s top stars in the Depression era.

Hill was severely injured in a June 1934 car accident at the peak of his career.

Reportedly, his injuries were the cause of his apparent suicide on August 10, 1934, when his body was found in his Venice beach home with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

At the time of his death, Hill was preparing to direct The Good Earth, MGM’s Oscar-winning film released in 1937.