Lois Weber, a veteran in the motion picture industry, was the the first woman to direct a full-length feature film.
Weber made "The Merchant of Venice" in 1914, with her then-husband Phillips Smalley. She also wrote the screenplay and played Portia to Smalley's Shylock.
Under her direction, Anita Stewart, Billie Dove and Claire Windsor became leading actresses on the screen.
One of her best and most controversial films was 1915's "Hypocrites." Weber's attack on the moral decay of society caused a major stir when she chose to portray the concept of "the naked truth" with a fully nude woman.
Weber took on other social issues of the day, like birth control in "Where Are My Children" in 1916 and capital punishment in "The People vs. John Doe" also in 1916.
By 1916, Weber was one of the highest-paid directors in Hollywood — getting $50,000 a picture.
Weber continued to make social films into the early 1920s, when she suffered audience rejection and was divorced from Smalley. She made only a few more films, the last 1934's "White Heat," starring Virginia Cherrill.