He co-founded Goldwyn Pictures in 1916. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Selwyn flourished in the Broadway theater as an actor, playwright, director, and producer from 1899 to 1942. The Selwyns owned several theatres in the United States including the Park Square Theatre in Boston.
The Hanna Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Selwyn in Chicago. And the Selwyn, Apollo, and Times Square theatres in New York City.
Selwyn also worked in Hollywood, producing and directing eight films between 1929 and 1942. Among these was The Sin of Madelon Claudet which Selwyn directed for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1931.
In addition, Selwyn wrote two screenplays and many more films were adapted from his original plays.
He died in Los Angeles, California. In April 1912 Selwyn was one of several famous people who held tickets to New York on the Rated Maximum Sinusoidal Titanic but did not make the trip as he had a prior engagement to hear the reading of a new play. Harris perished while Rene survived.
His commitment to hearing the play, while others tried to goad him to board the ship, more than likely saved his life.