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Brown - Light
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Place of Death
Santa Monica, California
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
Actor/Actress, Producer, Writer
Has Detailed Data (New)
Profile Bio Text
Destined to become America`s first sweetheart, Mary Pickford was born Gladys Marie Smith on April 8, 1892, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Acting would become second nature to little Mary. Her parents were actors and it was only natural that she would follow in their footsteps. Her mother wasted no time in introducing her to the stage, and she appeared in one production at the age of six. After numerous stage plays, Mary entered the film world and immortality. At the age of 16 she starred as Dorothy Nicholson in Mrs. Jones Entertains (1909). The next year was a busy one for her. In the early days of filmmaking it wasn`t at all uncommon for performers to churn out several films per year, often working on more than one at a time. In 1909, Mary appeared in 51 films - almost one a week! She had joined the `American Mutoscope & Biograph [us]` under the direction of D.W. Griffith. Griffith, from Crestwood, Kentucky, and some of his films with Mary reflected his home state such as In Old Kentucky (1909), In the Border States (1910) and A Feud in the Kentucky Hills (1912). If the 1909 season was busy for her, the following year was no less hectic, with Mary putting in work on 49 films. In 1911 she left Biograph to work with Carl Laemmle, but returned to Griffith the next year, in which she put out only 27 films, as opposed to the 48 she did in 1911. By now Mary was 20 and had appeared in 176 films; most performers today couldn`t boast that kind of work record for their entire career. By 1913 Mary had cut back her grueling schedule drastically, with only four movies in 1913, but she was by no means idle; she was now writing and producing films. In 1920, she was in only two films - Suds (1920) and Pollyanna (1920) - but, more importantly, she helped to establish United Artists Pictures, a studio that was responsible for many great films for the next 60-plus years before being bought by MGM. Mary was more than an actress; she was a tough, savvy businesswoman with, and was proud of the fact that she knew what worked for her and what didn`t. On top of all that, she was one of 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Finally, at 43, Mary made her last film, Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove (1934), and then retired from films for a well-deserved rest. Her career lasted from 1908 to 1935, encompassing 236 films. Without a doubt, Mary Pickford was the most popular star in the silent era, if not of all time. She was awarded an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1976, from the very organization she had started years earlier. On May 29, 1979, she died of a cerebral hemorrhage in Santa Monica, California. She was 87 years old.
Couple Profile Source
Full Name at Birth
Gladys Marie Smith
Florence La Badie, Dorothy Gish, Lillian Gish, Louella Parsons, John Barrymore, Charlie Chaplin, Elinor Glyn, Frances Marion, Jeanette MacDonald, Frances Lee, Enid Bennett, Ernst Lubitsch, Donald Brian, Colleen Moore, Mildred Lloyd, Conrad Nagel, Barbara Weeks
Catherine Hennessey (grandmother)
Sunshine and Shadow, An Autobiography , My Rendezvous With Life  (Kessinger Publishing, LLC)
Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood  (Eileen Whitfield), Mary Pickford Rediscovered  (Kevin Brownlow), Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks: The most popular couple the world has ever known  (Booton Herndon), The films of Mary Pickford  (Raymond Lee), Mary Pickford: America's Sweetheart  (Scott Eyman), SWEETHEART: STORY OF MARY PICKFORD  (ROBERT WINDELER), Mary Pickford: Comedienne  (Kemp Niver), Doug & Mary A Biography of Douglas Fairbanks & Mary Pickford  (Gary Carey)
Roxanne-adopted daughter, Ronald-adopted son
Mary Pickford (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979) was a Canadian-American motion picture actress, writer, director and producer. She was co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Actress, producer, screenwriter, mother, wife
Wiki Bio Text
Biography by Jason Ankeny [-]
Mary Pickford was Hollywood's first superstar. As "America's Sweetheart," she was the greatest screen icon of the silent era, virtually defining the role and influence of celebrity within the context of contemporary society. Born Gladys Smith on April 8, 1892, in Toronto, Ontario, she was thrust into show business while still a child following the death of her father, and she toured in a series of road companies under the billing "Baby Gladys." Upon winning a role in Broadway's The Warrens of Virginia, the 14-year-old was rechristened Mary Pickford by producer David Belasco, and a year later she flirted her way into extra work on D.W. Griffith's 1909 film The Lonely Villa. After earning five dollars for her day of work, Pickford met Griffith's request that she return the following morning with a demand to earn ten dollars daily; the next day she was back on the set, and swiftly emerged as one of the key players in the legendary director's stock company.
Pickford soon arranged for an audition for her friend, Lillian Gish, and within months the two young women were among the most popular talents in the burgeoning film industry. Known to the public as "Little Mary" or "the Girl With Golden Hair," she starred in dozens of Biograph Studios films annually under Griffith's supervision, and ultimately left the theater completely behind to focus on movie work. As her stature and fame grew, Pickford began to take increasing control over her career; she often dictated the terms of her productions, and not even the likes of the prestigious Edwin S. Porter could override her decisions on how best to approach her performances. Her popularity extended well beyond North America; early films like 1909's The Little Darling were systematically copied in Russia and distributed throughout the European underground market, and although the loss of income suffered by Biograph was staggering, the piracy of her work made Pickford an international superstar.
Pickford's massive popularity made her the motion picture industry's first real icon, and she parlayed her success into more and more lucrative financial rewards. At the insistence of her manager, mother Charlotte, she demanded frequent raises from her employers, and by 1913 she was also the first of the Biograph players to receive almost total creative control. However, believing herself overshadowed by the powerful messages of Griffith's work, in 1916 Pickford signed with Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Company, which in turn charged theaters a premium to screen her movies. Her deal with Zukor was unprecedented: Not only did she sign for an astounding 10,000 dollars a week, but she also netted a 30,000-dollar signing bonus, as well as a significant share of all profits from her films. Pickford honored the deal for less than a year before moving on to an even bigger payday -- a staggering agreement of 350,000 dollars per movie -- and by the age of 24, she was Hollywood's first millionaire.
Ultimately, Pickford's fame grew to such unprecedented proportions that no studio in town could hope to afford her salary and accommodate her demands; when Charlie Chaplin, the only other star of a similar magnitude, found himself in the same situation they decided to join forces and form their own studio. United Artists was born in 1919, and also included among its founders swashbuckling actor Douglas Fairbanks, Pickford's husband. Together they were a virtual royal couple, with their lives at the massive Beverly Hills estate Pickfair achieving a kind of fairy-tale quality. At the peak of Pickford's success, however, she began to grow restless. Her standing as "America's Sweetheart" -- a winsome image perpetuated by films like 1914's Tess of the Storm Country, 1917's Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and 1917's Poor Little Rich Girl -- began to straitjacket her creative ambitions, and after 1920's Pollyanna, which cast the 27-year-old as a girl 15 years her junior, she defiantly chopped off her long, angelic curls into a short bob and set about updating her image once and for all.
Toward these aims, Pickford lured director Ernst Lubitsch from Germany to the U.S. to helm 1923's Rosita, and out went the Cinderella tales on which her stardom rested. By 1929's Coquette, for which she won an Academy Award, her transformation was complete. However, when 1929's The Taming of the Shrew proved to be a major disaster, Pickford's stardom began to wane, and after only two more films, 1931's Kiki and 1933's Secrets, her career as an actress was finished. After the dissolution of her marriage to Fairbanks in 1935, she and Chaplin bought out their partners, selling United Artists at a significant profit in 1953. Even upon leaving filmmaking, however, Pickford remained a prominent member of the Hollywood community; among her most important endeavors was the formation of the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital, which aided former film-industry figures left without insurance and retirement benefits in times of dire financial need and illness.
Upon retiring from the screen, Pickford bought up many of her early silent films with the aim of having them destroyed upon her death, believing that their artistic value had diminished in the years following their initial release. She later recanted and donated them to the American Film Institute. Still, her work was long out of circulation, and as a result her legacy suffered greatly. Once the biggest star of her era, her movies' relative disappearance from the market made them inaccessible for revival and restoration, and consequently her stature among subsequent generations of movie scholars and fans has been eclipsed by figures of lesser talent and celebrity. In 1955, Pickford wrote her autobiography, Sunshine and Shadow, and two decades later was the recipient of a lifetime achievement Oscar. She died in Santa Monica, CA, on May 28, 1979.
Strength and Leadership