Maker of more than 70 silent films, most notably When Empty Hearts Are Filled and The Altar of Ambition.
He started as a story buyer for Essanay Studios: it was his job to put out notices for stories the studio was looking for and to collect submissions.
He worked for the Works Progress Administration during the Depression, touring around the U.S. producing puppet shows.
He was born in Lake City, Iowa, where the family fell on hard times after his father Dr. William McMackin's death in 1900.
He never achieved the fame of fellow silent film director D.W. Griffith, but he still had a successful Hollywood career.