Oscar C. Apfel (January 17, 1878 – March 21, 1938) was an American film actor, director, screenwriter and producer. He appeared in 167 films between 1913 and 1939, and also directed 94 films between 1911 and 1927.
Apfel was born in Cleveland, Ohio. After a number of years in commerce, he decided to adopt the stage as a profession. He secured his first professional engagement in 1900, in his hometown. He rose rapidly and soon held a position as director and producer and was at the time noted as being the youngest stage director in America. He spent eleven years on the stage on Broadway then joined the Edison Manufacturing Company. Apfel first directed for Thomas A. Edison, Inc. in 1911–12, where he made the innovative short film The Passer-By (1912). He also did some experimental work at Edison’s laboratory in Orange, on the Edison Talking Pictures devices.
When Apfel left the Edison company, he joined Reliance-Majestic Studios, remaining with them eighteen months. In 1913, he became one of two main directors for the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company, the other being Cecil B. DeMille. All the first Lasky pictures were produced under his direction. Among these were the notable successes The Squaw Man (1914), Brewster’s Millions, The Master Mind, The Only Son, The Ghost Breaker, The Man on the Box, The Circus Man and Cameo Kirby.
Apfel’s directorial collaboration with DeMille was a crucial element in the development of DeMille’s filmmaking technique.
In late 1914, Apfel left the Lasky Company and directed for various companies into the 1920s. His first move was to the producing staff of the William Fox Corporation where he directed a series of pictures in which William Farnum starred. Some of these were A Soldier’s Oath, Fighting Blood, The End of the Trail, The Battle of Hearts and A Man of Sorrow.
For the Paralta Company, to whom Apfel went after leaving the Fox Corporation, he produced Peter Kyne’s A Man’s a Man and The Turn of a Card in which J. Warren Kerrigan starred.
Auction of Souls (1919), a public-awareness picture for the Armenian Relief Committee, was Apfel’s work. This production commanded wide attention and attracted great crowds at the special showings which took place at the Plaza and other prominent hotels. The sympathetic interest evoked by its revelations helped in materially adding to the large sums that were subscribed to this cause.
A series of pictures for the World Film Corporation, starring Kitty Gordon, Montague Love, June Elvidge, Louise Huff, and Evelyn Greeley, were also among Apfel’s successful productions.
After many years as a director, he gradually returned to acting. On March 21, 1938, Apfel died in Hollywood from a heart attack.