"silent movies" "silent
film" "silent era"
Born Toronto, Canada, April 8, 1893. She was born Gladys
Smith but changed the named to Mary Pickford in 1907 at the suggestion
of stage producer David Belasco. She appeared on the stage for
the first time at age five, and, with her mother (Charlotte),
brother (Jack) and sister (Lottie) spent the next 11 years making
a steady living on the stage, although she never became a major
star. In 1909, she joined Biograph and began making one and two-reel
shorts that cause her popularity with the public to grow steadily.
It was her growing popularity that caused Carl Laemmle to lure
her away to his IMP company for a short period, but she was unhappy
and returned to Biograph. She left Griffith in 1912 and joined
Adolph Zukor and Famous Players where she began to make the features
that made her the institution she is. Pickford made 34 features
for Famous Players (which evolved into Paramount) from 1913-1919
including "Hearts Adrift" (1914), "Tess of the
Storm Country" (1914), "Poor Little Peppina" (1916),
"The Pride of the Clan" (1917), "Poor Little Rich
Girl" (1917), "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" (1917),
"Amarilly of Clothesline Alley" (1918), "M'Liss"
(1918), "Johanna Enlists" (1918) and a stand-out dual
performance in "Stella Maris" (1918). Mary moved to
First National in 1919 where she made three films - "Daddy
Long Legs," "The Hoodlum," and "The Heart
O' the Hills." Then, she, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin
and D.W. Griffith joined together to form United Artists. Mary
had married fellow Biograph actor Owen Moore in 1911, a marriage
of which her mother never approved. The two remained estranged
throughout the second half of the 'teens, and, in the late 'teens
she fell in love with Douglas Fairbanks. Their love grew as they
toured the country in 1918 on bond tour for the war effort. Both
obtained divorces from their first spouses and married in 1920
to become the King and Queen of Hollywood as they reigned from
the most famous residence in Hollywood - Pickfair. Mary's successes
continued into throughout the 1920's - the most popular female
star of the movies and also the highest paid. Not only was Pickford
idolized in the United States, she and Fairbanks would be mobbed
anytime they went to Europe. Mary's first United Artist release
was "Pollyanna" (1920) followed by "Suds"
(1920) and then three releases in 1921 - "The Love Light,"
"Through the Back Door" and "Little Lord Fauntleroy."
The production schedule slowed considerably during the remainder
of the decade as more attention was lavished on her films. All
of her films were great successes. She only faltered once with
"Rosita" (1923) when she brought in Ernst Lubitsch for
the direction and the relationship didn't gel. However, a remake
of "Tess of the Storm Country" (1921), "Dorothy
Vernon of Haddon Hall" (1924, "Little Annie Rooney"
(1926) and her last silent "My
Best Girl" (1928) were all grand successes. Mary's siblings,
Lottie and Jack also entered the movies, but had much less successful
careers. Jack, particularly, had an erratic personal life marred
by alcoholism and difficult marriages, one ending in a suicide.
Both Lottie and Jack died in the 1930's at relatively young ages.
Mary made for sound features, the first of which, "Coquette"
(1929) brought her a best actress Oscar. A 1929 teaming of her
and Fairbanks for "The Taming of the Shrew" proved to
be a less than satisfying experience for both of them as the marriage
was experiencing troubles at this time. Mary's last screen appearance
was a very good movie - "Secrets" (1933) co-starring
Leslie Howard. Mary and Douglas divorced in 1936 and she married
her "My Best Girl" co-star Buddy Rogers in 1937, a marriage
that lasted until her death May 29, 1979.
Selected films of this star available for viewing:
The Little American (1917)
The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917)
Pride of the Clan (1917)
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917)
Long Legs (1919)
Lord Fauntleroy (1921)
Tess of the Storm Country (1922)
Little Annie Rooney (1925)
The Gaucho (1928)
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