Ralph Graves was an American screenwriter, film director and actor who appeared in 93 films between 1918 and 1949.
Born as Ralph Horsburgh in Cleveland, Ohio, Graves had been featured in 46 films, half of them produced by Mack Sennett, before writing, directing, and starring in Swell Hogan, produced by Howard Hughes, whose father once had supported Graves by placing him on the payroll of the Hughes Tool Company between screen assignments, although the actor never worked there.
Graves and the younger Hughes met on the Wilshire Country Club golf course, and over lunch the actor pitched a film about a Bowery bum that adopts a baby. The plot intrigued Hughes, who had a strong interest in Hollywood, and he invested $40,000 in the project. During filming he sat on the sidelines in order to familiarize himself with the technical aspects of production. The budget eventually doubled, and after seeing the completed film numerous times, Hughes hired Dorothy Arzner to help him re-edit it, but there was little they could do to salvage it. When asked his opinion of it, Hughes' uncle, novelist and film director Rupert Hughes, said, "It's nothing. No plot. No build up. No character development. The acting stinks. Destroy the film. If anbody sees it, you and that homo Graves will be the laughing stock of Hollywood." Hughes took his uncle's advice and ordered the screening room projectionist to burn the sole copy. Graves later claimed he and Hughes had engaged in a sexual relationship while collaborating on Swell Hogan.