Famous Like Me > Actress > P > Mary Pickford
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Profile of Mary Pickford
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|Also Know As:
|Date of Birth:
||8th April 1892
|Place of Birth:
||Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Mary Pickford (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979) was a motion picture star and co-founder of United Artists, known as "America's Sweetheart" and "the girl with the curl." She was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood. Mary Pickford is mostly known as the first Movie Star in Hollywood.
Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (for some reason, Pickford always claimed "Marie" as her middle name). Her father, John Charles Smith, was the son of Methodist English immigrants, and worked as a purser on a steamship, dying of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1898. Her mother, née Charlotte Hennessy, daughter of Irish Catholic immigrants, began taking in boarders, and through one of these lodgers Gladys, aged seven, gained a part in Toronto's Princess Theatre production of The Silver King as Baby Gladys Smith. She subsequently played in many melodramas and became a popular child-actress in Canada. Pickford's mother baptized little Gladys in both Methodist and Catholic churches for the sake of both families, but did not raise her children Catholic, to the dismay of her own mother, a devout Roman Catholic emigrant from County Kerry.
Beginning of Career to Stardom
Her mother took her to New York, looking for stardom, and she landed a leading role in a 1907 Broadway play, The Warrens of Virginia. The playwright, William C. DeMille, brother of Cecil B. DeMille, also appeared in the cast. David Belasco, the producer of the play, insisted that Gladys Smith assume the stage name Mary Pickford. She became the inspiration for countless other blonde-haired ingénues.
Biograph Studios director D. W. Griffith screen-tested and hired her for a part in a one-reel thriller, The Lonely Villa in 1909 and the following January she traveled with a Biograph crew to Los Angeles to set up a West Coast studio and to shoot the film Ramona on location. Most of Pickford's biographers agree that 1917's The Poor Little Rich Girl represents the major turning point in her film career. Pickford would go on to become Hollywood's biggest female star, the first female actor to receive more than a million dollars per year (the first male actor who made a million-dollar deal was Charlie Chaplin), and one of the few stars to prove successful in both the silent-film era and the sound-film period. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1929, but retired from films four years later, after a series of disappointing roles and the public's inability to accept Pickford in roles that reflected her own age, rather than teenage heroines.
Pickford married three times. She first married Owen Moore (1886 - 1939), an Irish-born silent-film actor, on January 7, 1911. The couple had numerous marital problems, notably Moore's alcoholism, and Pickford became secretly involved in a romantic relationship with Douglas Fairbanks, an action-adventure film-star. The phrase "by the clock" became a secret message of their love; as the couple was driving and Fairbanks was discussing the recent death of his mother, the clock stopped.
Pickford finally divorced Moore in March 1920 and married Fairbanks on March 28 of the same year. Together they gained the status of "Hollywood Royalty" and their entertaining at their estate Pickfair became legendary. However, Pickford's second marriage also was fraught with problems. Her stressful business schedule and Fairbanks' extra-marital affair with another woman led to their divorce in January 1936.
In 1937, Mary Pickford married her last husband, actor and bandleader Charles 'Buddy' Rogers. They had two adopted children, Roxanne and Ronald. They stayed together for over four decades until Pickford's death from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 87.
The film industry
In 1921, the Motion Picture Relief Fund (MPRF) was incorporated with Joseph Schenck voted its first president and Mary Pickford as its vice president. In 1932, Pickford spearheaded the "Payroll Pledge Program," a payroll deduction plan for studio workers who gave one-half of one percent of their earnings to the MPRF. As a result, in 1940 the Fund was able to purchase the land and build the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital.
Mary Pickford also became one of the film industry's most successful producers. According to her Foundation, "from early in her career, she oversaw every aspect of the making of her films, from hiring talent and crew to overseeing the script, the shooting, the editing, to the final release and promotion of each project."
An astute business person, in 1919 she co-founded United Artists (UA) with Charlie Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, and her soon-to-be husband, Douglas Fairbanks. The goal was to ensure that film artists could have both ownership and control and over their own work. When she retired from acting in 1933, Pickford continued to produce films for United Artists, and she and Charlie Chaplin remained partners in the company for thirty-five years until her retirement in 1954.
For the last 50-odd years of her life, Pickford suffered from alcoholism, which also afflicted her first husband and both of her parents. She became somewhat of a recluse, remaining at Pickfair in her final decades, only allowing visits from Lillian Gish, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and a few select others.
The "Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study" at 1313 Vine Street in Hollywood, constructed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, opened in 1948 as a radio and television studio facility. The "Mary Pickford Theater" at the United States Library of Congress was named in her honor.
Mary Pickford received an Academy Honorary Award for a lifetime of achievements. The Academy sent a TV crew to her house to record her reaction to the award. Her frail appearance and her nearly unintelligible speech shocked the general public (who remembered Pickford from the movies she had made in her prime). Before her death, Pickford petitioned the Canadian government to restore her Canadian citizenship which had been lost when she became a U.S. citizen on her marriage to Fairbanks in 1920, and it did so. Thus, she became, long before it became fashionable to do so, a dual citizen. She died on May 29, 1979 at age 87, and lies buried, along with her scandal-prone brother Jack Pickford, in the Pickford private family plot in the Garden of Memory of the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Mary Pickford received a posthumous star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto in 1999.
- 1909: discovered by David Wark Griffith at Biograph, worked for $5 a day
- 1910: I.M.P., $175 a week
- 1911: Majestic Film Corp.
- 1912: back to Biograph
- 1913: appeared (with Lillian Gish) in Belasco's Broadway production A Good Little Devil
- 1913: Famous Players, $20,000 a year
- 1915: worked for various companies, $1000 to $2000 a week
- 1916: founded "The Mary Pickford Corporation" as a part of Paramount Pictures, she earned about $10,000 a week. She became the first actress to produce her own films.
- 1917: starred in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Poor Little Rich Girl, among other films. She toured the United States of America with Fairbanks and others, supporting U.S. involvement in World War I and promoting Liberty Bonds.
- 1918: played two starring roles in Stella Maris, in performances that Adolph Zukor reluctantly judged her best yet. She earned $675,000 (about $10 million in 2005-terms) for three films with First National, plus 50% of all profits, plus a signing bonus of $50,000 and complete control over her films, ranging from script to the final cut.
- 1919: co-founded United Artists
- 1923: Pickford, wanting to work with a strong director, convinced Ernst Lubitsch to direct her next film. After considering alternatives, they settled on Rosita, with a performance which critics praised but her fans avoided (it lacked her 'little girl' image).
- 1927 United Artists, under Pickford's direction, opens their flagship Spanish Gothic movie theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Pickford became deeply involved in the design of the theatre, and two Anthony Heinsbergen murals in the auditorium feature her. Theatre architect Howard Crane opened two other UA theatres in the same year, in Chicago and Detroit. The Los Angeles theatre has become known as the University Cathedral of Dr. Eugene Scott.
- 1929: Pickford becomes the first major actress to star in a sound film, Coquette, a production that did well at the box office, earning $1.4 million. Her performance earned her an Oscar.
- 1933: Pickford stars in Secrets, a money-losing film which proved her last.
- 1937: Pickford founds Mary Pickford Cosmetics, a beauty company.
- 1941: Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, Orson Welles, Samuel Goldwyn, David O. Selznick, Alexander Korda, and Walter Wanger found the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers.
- 1949: Pickford and her husband form Pickford-Rogers-Boyd, a radio and television-production company.
- 1976: Pickford receives an Academy Honorary Award for a lifetime of achievements.
Mary Pickford has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6280 Hollywood Boulevard.
1. The Violin Maker of Cremona. 6/7/09.
2. The Lonely Villa. 6/10/09.
3. The Son's Return. 6/14/09.
4. Faded Lilies. 6/14/09.
5. Her First Biscuits. 6/17/09.
6. The Peach-Basket Hat. 6/24/09.
7. The Way of Man. 6/28/09.
8. The Necklace. 7/1/09.
9. The Country Doctor. 7/8/09.
10. The Cardinal's Conspiracy. 7/12/09.
11. The Renunciation. 7/19/09.
12. Sweet and Twenty. 7/22/09.
13. The Slave. 7/29/09.
14. A Strange Meeting. 8/2/09.
15. They Would Elope. 8/9/09.
16. His Wife's Visitor. 8/19/09.
17. The Indian Runner's Romance. 8/23/09.
18. Oh, Uncle! 8/26/09.
19. The Seventh Day. 8/26/09.
20. The Little Darling. 9/2/09.
21. The Sealed Room. 9/2/09.
22. 1776 or The Hessian Renegades. 9/6/09.
23. Getting Even. 9/13/09.
24. The Broken Locket. 9/16/09.
25. In Old Kentucky. 9/20/09.
26. The Awakening. 9/30/09.
27. The Little Teacher. 10/11/09.
28. His Lost Love. 10/18/09.
29. In the Watches of the Night. 10/25/09.
30. What's Your Hurry? 11/1/09.
31. The Gibson Goddess. 11/2/09.
32. The Restoration. 11/8/09.
33. The Light That Came. 11/11/09.
34. A Midnight Adventure. 11/18/09.
35. The Mountaineer's Honor. 11/25/09.
36. The Trick That Failed. 11/29/09.
37. The Test. 12/16/09.
38. To Save Her Soul. 12/27/09.
39. All on Account of the Milk. 1/15/10.
40. The Woman From Mellon's. 2/3/10
41. The Englishman and the Girl. 2/17/10.
42. The Newlyweds. 3/3/10.
43. The Thread of Destiny. 3/7/10.
44. The Twisted Trail. 3/24/10.
45. The Smoker. 3/31/10.
46. As It Is In Life. 4/4/10.
47. A Rich Revenge. 4/7/10.
48. A Romance of the Western Hills. 4/11/10.
49. The Unchanging Sea. 5/5/10.
50. Love Among the Roses. 5/9/10.
51. The Two Brothers. 5/14/10.
52. Ramona 5/23/10.
53. In the Season of Buds. 6/2/10.
54. A Victim of Jealousy. 6/9/10.
55. A Child's Impulse. 6/27/10.
56. May and December. 6/30/10.
57. Muggsy's First Sweetheart. 6/30/10.
58. Never Again! 6/30/10.
59. What the Daisy Said. 7/11/10.
60. The Call to Arms. 7/25/10.
61. An Arcadian Maid. 8/1/10.
62. When We Were In Our 'Teens. 8/15/10.
63. The Sorrows of the Unfaithful. 8/22/10.
64. Wilful Peggy. 8/25/10.
65. Muggsy Becomes a Hero. 9/1/10.
66. A Gold Necklace. 10/6/10.
67. The Masher. 10/13/10.
68. A Lucky Toothache. 10/14/10.
69. Waiter No. 5. 11/5/10.
70. Simple Charity. 11/14/10.
71. Song of the Wildwood Flute. 11/21/10.
72. A Plain Song. 11/28/10.
73. White Roses. 12/22/10.
74. When A Man Loves. 1/5/11.
75. The Italian Barber. 1/9/11.
76. Three Sisters. 2/2/11.
77. A Decree of Destiny. 3/6/11.
78. Their First Misunderstanding. 1/9/11.
79. The Dream. 1/23/11.
80. Maid or Man. 1/30/11.
81. At the Duke's Command. 2/6/11.
82. The Mirror. 2/9/11.
83. While The Cat's Away. 2/9/11.
84. Her Darkest Hour. 2/13/11.
85. Artful Kate. 2/23/11.
86. A Manly Man. 2/27/11.
87. The Message in the Bottle. 3/9/11.
88. The Fisher-Maid. 3/16/11.
89. In Old Madrid. 3/20/11.
90. Sweet Memories. 3/27/11.
91. The Stampede. 4/17/11.
92. Second Sight. 5/1/11.
93. The Fair Dentist. 5/8/11.
94. For Her Brother's Sake. 5/11/11.
95. The Master and the Man. 5/15/11.
96. The Lighthouse Keeper. 5/18/11.
97. Back to the Soil. 6/8/11.
98. In the Sultan's Garden. 7/3/11.
99. For the Queen's Honor. 7/6/11.
100. A Gasoline Engagement. 7/10/11.
101. At a Quarter of Two. 7/13/11.
102. Science. 7/24/11.
103. The Skating Bug. 7/31/11.
104. The Call of the Song. 8/13/11.
105. The Toss of a Coin. 8/31/11.
106. 'Tween Two Loves. 9/28/11.
107. The Rose's Story. 10/2/11.
108. The Sentinel Asleep. 10/9/11.
109. The Better Way. 10/12/11.
110. His Dress Shirt. 10/30/11.
111. From the Bottom of the Sea. 11/20/11
112. The Courting of Mary. 11/26/11.
113. Love Heeds Not the Showers. 12/3/11.
114. Little Red Riding Hood. 12/17/11.
115. The Caddy's Dream. 12/31/11.
116. Honor Thy Father. 2/9/12.
117. The Mender of Nets. 2/15/12.
118. Iola's Promise. 3/14/12.
119. Fate's Interception. 4/8/12.
120. The Female of the Species. 4/15/12.
121. Just Like a Woman. 4/18/12.
122. Won By a Fish. 4/22/12.
123. The Old Actor. 5/6/12.
124. A Lodging for the Night. 5/9/12.
125. A Beast at Bay. 5/27/12.
126. Home Folks. 6/6/12.
127. Lena and the Geese. 6/17/12.
128. The School Teacher and the Waif. 6/27/12.
129. An Indian Summer. 7/8/12.
130. The Narrow Road. 8/1/12.
131. The Inner Circle. 8/12/12.
132. With the Enemy's Help. 8/19/12.
133. A Pueblo Legend. 8/29/12.
134. Friends. 9/23/12.
135. So Near, Yet So Far. 9/30/12.
136. A Feud in the Kentucky Hills. 10/3/12.
137. The One She Loved. 10/21/12.
138. My Baby. 11/14/12.
139. The Informer. 11/21/12.
140. The New York Hat. 12/6/12.
141. The Unwelcome Guest. 3/15/13.
1. In the Bishop's Carriage 9/10/13.
3. Hearts Adrift 2/10/14.
4. A Good Little Devil 3/1/14.
5. Tess of the Storm Country 3/30/14.
6. The Eagle's Mate 7/1/14.
7. Such a Little Queen 9/21/14.
8. Behind the Scenes 8/26/14.
9. Cinderella 12/28/14.
10. Mistress Nell 2/1/15.
11. Fanchon, The Cricket 5/10/15.
12. The Dawn of a Tomorrow 6/7/15.
13. Little Pal 7/1/15.
14. Rags 8/2/15.
15. Esmeralda 9/6/15.
16. A Girl of Yesterday 10/7/15.
17. Madame Butterfly 11/8/15.
18. The Foundling 1/2/16.
19. Poor Little Peppina 3/2/16.
20. The Eternal Grind 4/17/16.
21. Hulda From Holland 7/31/16.
22. Less Than the Dust 11/2/16.
23. The Pride of the Clan 1/8/17.
24. The Poor Little Rich Girl 3/5/17.
25. A Romance of the Redwoods 5/14/17.
26. The Little American 7/2/17.
27. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm 9/3/17.
28. A Little Princess 11/12/17.
29. Stella Maris 1/21/18.
30. Amarilly of Clothes-line Alley 3/10/18.
31. M'Liss 5/12/18.
32. How Could You, Jean? 6/23/18.
33. Johanna Enlists 5 reels. 9/15/18.
34. Captain Kidd, Jr. 4/21/19.
35. Daddy-Long-Legs 5/12/19.
36. The Hoodlum 9/1/19.
37. The Heart o' the Hills 12/1/19.
38. Pollyanna 1/18/20.
39. Suds 6/27/20.
40. The Love Light 1/9/21.
41. Through the Back Door 5/17/21.
42. Little Lord Fauntleroy 9/16/21.
43. Tess of the Storm Country 11/12/22.
44. Rosita 9/3/23.
45. Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall 5/25/24.
46. Little Annie Rooney 9/18/25.
47. Sparrows 9/26/26.
48. My Best Girl 11/13/27.
49. Coquette 3/30/29.
50. The Taming of the Shrew 10/26/29.
51. Kiki 3/14/31.
52. Secrets 3/16/33.
- Mary Pickford at Classic Actresses
- Mary Pickford Photo Galleries
- About Mary Pickford, from the website of the Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education
- Mary Pickford at the Internet Movie Database
- Mary Pickford, from American Experience
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