French filmmaker and producer Ferdinand Zecca was a cinema pioneer who gave the world crime melodrama with such films as Histoire d'un Crime (1901) and Les Victimes de l'Alcoolisme (1902). Zecca, born and raised in Paris, started out performing in cafés and began appearing in French films as an actor in 1899. He joined Pathè and became a director two years later. Very much the entrepreneur, Zecca was always looking for ways to make money from the movies. In fact, profit was far more important to him than the artistic potential of film and he frequently, shamelessly swiped themes and techniques from his rival Georges Melies. In 1910, Zecca stopped directing short films to function as Pathè's general manager until 1913 when he was sent to the U.S. to supervise the production company's New Jersey division. Zecca went back to France in 1920 to take over Pathe Baby, the company that resulted when the parent cooperation reorganized. He remained there until retiring in 1939.