Mary Pickford

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Mary Pickford
Mary Pickford cph.3c17995u.jpg
Pickford c. 1910
Born
Gladys Louise Smith [1]

(1892-04-08)April 8, 1892
DiedMay 29, 1979(1979-05-29) (aged 87)
Burial place Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
Citizenship British subject (1892–1920)
United States (1920–1979)
Canada (1978–1979) [2]
OccupationActress, producer
Years active1900–1955
Spouse(s)
Children2
Parent(s)
Relatives
Website Mary Pickford Foundation

Gladys Louise Smith (April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979), known professionally as Mary Pickford, was a Canadian-born American film actress and producer. With a career spanning 50 years, she was a co-founder of both the Pickford–Fairbanks Studio (along with Douglas Fairbanks) and, later, the United Artists film studio (with Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith), and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who present the yearly "Oscar" award ceremony. [3]

Douglas Fairbanks American actor, screenwriter, director, and producer

Douglas Fairbanks was an American actor, screenwriter, director, and producer. He was best known for his swashbuckling roles in silent films including The Thief of Bagdad, Robin Hood, and The Mark of Zorro but spent the early part of his career making comedies.

United Artists American film studio

United Artists Corporation (UA), currently doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, is an American film and television entertainment studio. Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks, the studio was premised on allowing actors to control their own interests, rather than being dependent upon commercial studios. UA was repeatedly bought, sold, and restructured over the ensuing century. The current United Artists company exists as a successor to the original; as a distributor of films across MGM and third-party titles and as a provider of digital content, in addition to handling most of its post-1952 in-house library and other content it has since acquired. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the studio in 1981 for a reported $350 million.

Charlie Chaplin British comic actor and filmmaker

Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin was an English comic actor, filmmaker, and composer who rose to fame in the era of silent film. He became a worldwide icon through his screen persona, "The Tramp", and is considered one of the most important figures in the history of the film industry. His career spanned more than 75 years, from childhood in the Victorian era until a year before his death in 1977, and encompassed both adulation and controversy.

Contents

Pickford was known in her prime as "America's Sweetheart" [4] [5] [6] and the "girl with the curls". [6] She was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood and a significant figure in the development of film acting. Pickford was one of the earliest stars to be billed under her own name, and was one of the most popular actresses of the 1910s and 1920s, earning the nickname "Queen of the Movies". She is credited as having defined the ingénue archetype in cinema. [7]

Motion pictures have been a part of the culture of Canada since the industry began.

<i>Ingénue</i> stock character; young woman who is endearingly innocent and wholesome

The ingénue is a stock character in literature, film and a role type in the theater; generally a girl or a young woman who is endearingly innocent. Ingénue may also refer to a new young actress or one typecast in such roles. The term comes from the feminine form of the French adjective ingénu meaning "ingenuous" or innocent, virtuous and candid. The term may also imply a lack of sophistication and cunning.

She was awarded the second ever Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound-film role in Coquette (1929) and also received an honorary Academy Award in 1976. In consideration of her contributions to American cinema, the American Film Institute ranked Pickford as 24th in its 1999 list of greatest female stars of classic Hollywood Cinema.

Academy Award for Best Actress award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

The Academy Award for Best Actress is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given in honor of an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance in a leading role while working within the film industry. The award was traditionally presented by the previous year's Best Actor winner.

<i>Coquette</i> (film) 1929 film by Sam Taylor

Coquette is a 1929 American Pre-Code drama film, starring Mary Pickford. The film was a box office success. For her performance, Pickford won the second Academy Award for Best Actress.

The Academy Honorary Award – instituted in 1950 for the 23rd Academy Awards – is given annually by the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to celebrate motion picture achievements that are not covered by existing Academy Awards, although prior winners of competitive Academy Awards are not excluded from receiving the Honorary Award.

Early life

Bust of Mary Pickford on University Avenue, near her Toronto birthplace Bust of Mary Pickford.jpg
Bust of Mary Pickford on University Avenue, near her Toronto birthplace

Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in 1892 (although she would later claim 1893 or 1894 as her year of birth) at 211 University Avenue, [lower-alpha 1] Toronto, Ontario. [1] Her father, John Charles Smith, was the son of English Methodist immigrants, and worked a variety of odd jobs. Her mother, Charlotte Hennessey, was of Irish Catholic descent and worked for a time as a seamstress. She had two younger siblings, Charlotte, called "Lottie" (born 1893), and John Charles, called "Jack" (born 1896), who also became actors. To please her husband's relatives, Pickford's mother baptized her children as Methodists, the religion of their father. John Charles Smith was an alcoholic; he abandoned the family and died on February 11, 1898, from a fatal blood clot caused by a workplace accident when he was a purser with Niagara Steamship. [1]

University Avenue (Toronto) street in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

University Avenue is a major north–south road in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Beginning at Front Street West in the south, the thoroughfare heads north to end at College Street just south of Queen's Park. At its north end, the Ontario Legislative Building serves as a prominent terminating vista. Many of Toronto's most important institutions are located along the eight-lane wide street such as Osgoode Hall and other legal institutions, the Four Seasons Centre, major hospitals conducting research and teaching, and landmark office buildings for the commercial sector, notably major financial and insurance industry firms. The portion of University Avenue between Queen Street West and College Street is laid out as a boulevard, with several memorials, statues, gardens, and fountains concentrated in a landscaped median dividing the opposite directions of travel, giving it a ceremonial character.

Toronto Provincial capital city in Ontario, Canada

Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the most populous city in Canada, with a population of 2,731,571 in 2016. Current to 2016, the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA), of which the majority is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), held a population of 5,928,040, making it Canada's most populous CMA. Toronto is the fastest growing city in North America, and is the anchor of an urban agglomeration, known as the Golden Horseshoe in Southern Ontario, located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. Toronto is an international centre of business, finance, arts, and culture, and is recognized as one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Methodism Group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity

Methodism, also known as the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations of Protestant Christianity which derive their practice and belief from the life and teachings of John Wesley. George Whitefield and John's brother Charles Wesley were also significant early leaders in the movement. It originated as a revival movement within the 18th-century Church of England and became a separate denomination after Wesley's death. The movement spread throughout the British Empire, the United States, and beyond because of vigorous missionary work, today claiming approximately 80 million adherents worldwide.

When Gladys was age four, her household was under infectious quarantine, a public health measure. Their devoutly Catholic maternal grandmother (Catherine Faeley Hennessey) asked a visiting Roman Catholic priest to baptize the children. Pickford was at this time baptized as Gladys Marie Smith. [8] [9]

After being widowed in 1899, Charlotte Smith began taking in boarders, one of whom was a Mr. Murphy, the theatrical stage manager for Cummings Stock Company, who soon suggested that Gladys, then age seven, and Lotti, then age six, be given two small theatrical roles — Gladys portrayed a girl and a boy, while Lottie was cast in a silent part in the company's production of The Silver King at Toronto's Princess Theatre (destroyed by fire in 1915, rebuilt, demolished in 1931), while their mother played the organ. [10] [1] Pickford subsequently acted in many melodramas with Toronto's Valentine Stock Company, finally playing the major child role in its version of The Silver King. She capped her short career in Toronto with the starring role of Little Eva in the Valentine production of Uncle Tom's Cabin , adapted from the 1852 novel. [1]

The Silver King is an 1881 melodramatic play, by Henry Arthur Jones and Henry Herman. It was "so well known that criticism is superfluous" and played to record-breaking audiences. The play was adapted for screen in the 1929 silent film production The Silver King directed by T. Hayes Hunter. The play featured stars such as Mary Pickford.

Tom show

Tom show is a general term for any play or musical based on the 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. The novel attempts to depict the harsh reality of slavery. Due to the weak copyright laws at the time, a number of unauthorized plays based on the novel were staged for decades, many of them mocking the novel's strong characters and social message, and leading to the pejorative term "Uncle Tom".

Career

Early years

Mary Pickford, 1916 Mary Pickford 1916.jpg
Mary Pickford, 1916

By the early 1900s, theatre had become a family enterprise. Gladys, her mother and two younger siblings toured the United States by rail, performing in third-rate companies and plays. After six impoverished years, Pickford allowed one more summer to land a leading role on Broadway, planning to quit acting if she failed. In 1906 Gladys, Lottie and Jack Smith supported singer Chauncey Olcott on Broadway in Edmund Burke . [11] Gladys finally landed a supporting role in a 1907 Broadway play, The Warrens of Virginia . The play was written by William C. deMille, whose brother, Cecil, appeared in the cast. David Belasco, the producer of the play, insisted that Gladys Smith assume the stage name Mary Pickford. [12] After completing the Broadway run and touring the play, however, Pickford was again out of work.

On April 19, 1909, the Biograph Company director D. W. Griffith screen-tested her at the company's New York studio for a role in the nickelodeon film Pippa Passes . The role went to someone else but Griffith was immediately taken with Pickford. She quickly grasped that movie acting was simpler than the stylized stage acting of the day. Most Biograph actors earned $5 a day but, after Pickford's single day in the studio, Griffith agreed to pay her $10 a day against a guarantee of $40 a week. [13]

Pickford, like all actors at Biograph, played both bit parts and leading roles, including mothers, ingenues, charwomen, spitfires, slaves, Native Americans, spurned women, and a prostitute. As Pickford said of her success at Biograph:

I played scrubwomen and secretaries and women of all nationalities ... I decided that if I could get into as many pictures as possible, I'd become known, and there would be a demand for my work.

She appeared in 51 films in 1909 – almost one a week. While at Biograph, she suggested to Florence La Badie to "try pictures", invited her to the studio and later introduced her to D. W. Griffith, who launched La Badie's career. [14]

In January 1910, Pickford traveled with a Biograph crew to Los Angeles. Many other film companies wintered on the West Coast, escaping the weak light and short days that hampered winter shooting in the East. Pickford added to her 1909 Biographs (Sweet and Twenty, They Would Elope, and To Save Her Soul, to name a few) with films made in California.

Actors were not listed in the credits in Griffith's company. Audiences noticed and identified Pickford within weeks of her first film appearance. Exhibitors, in turn, capitalized on her popularity by advertising on sandwich boards that a film featuring "The Girl with the Golden Curls", "Blondilocks", or "The Biograph Girl" was inside. [15]

Pickford left Biograph in December 1910. The following year, she starred in films at Carl Laemmle's Independent Moving Pictures Company (IMP). IMP was absorbed into Universal Pictures in 1912, along with Majestic. Unhappy with their creative standards, Pickford returned to work with Griffith in 1912. Some of her best performances were in his films, such as Friends, The Mender of Nets, Just Like a Woman, and The Female of the Species . That year, Pickford also introduced Dorothy and Lillian Gish– whom she had befriended as new neighbors from Ohio [16] –to Griffith, [1] and each became major silent film stars, in comedy and tragedy, respectively. Pickford made her last Biograph picture, The New York Hat , in late 1912.

She returned to Broadway in the David Belasco production of A Good Little Devil (1912). This was a major turning point in her career. Pickford, who had always hoped to conquer the Broadway stage, discovered how deeply she missed film acting. In 1913, she decided to work exclusively in film. The previous year, Adolph Zukor had formed Famous Players in Famous Plays. It was later known as Famous Players-Lasky and then Paramount Pictures, one of the first American feature film companies.

Mary Pickford, 1916 Mary Pickford with camera2.jpg
Mary Pickford, 1916

Pickford left the stage to join Zukor's roster of stars. Zukor believed film's potential lay in recording theatrical players in replicas of their most famous stage roles and productions. Zukor first filmed Pickford in a silent version of A Good Little Devil. The film, produced in 1913, showed the play's Broadway actors reciting every line of dialogue, resulting in a stiff film that Pickford later called "one of the worst [features] I ever made ... it was deadly". [1] Zukor agreed; he held the film back from distribution for a year.

Pickford's work in material written for the camera by that time had attracted a strong following. Comedy-dramas, such as In the Bishop's Carriage (1913), Caprice (1913), and especially Hearts Adrift (1914), made her irresistible to moviegoers. Hearts Adrift was so popular that Pickford asked for the first of her many publicized pay raises based on the profits and reviews. [17] The film marked the first time Pickford's name was featured above the title on movie marquees. [17] Tess of the Storm Country was released five weeks later. Biographer Kevin Brownlow observed that the film "sent her career into orbit and made her the most popular actress in America, if not the world". [17]

Her appeal was summed up two years later by the February 1916 issue of Photoplay as "luminous tenderness in a steel band of gutter ferocity". [1] Only Charlie Chaplin, who slightly surpassed Pickford's popularity in 1916, [18] had a similarly spellbinding pull with critics and the audience. Each enjoyed a level of fame far exceeding that of other actors. Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, Pickford was believed to be the most famous woman in the world, or, as a silent-film journalist described her, "the best known woman who has ever lived, the woman who was known to more people and loved by more people than any other woman that has been in all history". [1]

Stardom

Mary Pickford, 1920 Mary Pickford-Ziegfeld.jpg
Mary Pickford, 1920

Pickford starred in 52 features throughout her career. On June 24, 1916, Pickford signed a new contract with Zukor that granted her full authority over production of the films in which she starred, [19] and a record-breaking salary of $10,000 a week. [20] In addition, Pickford's compensation was half of a film's profits, with a guarantee of $1,040,000 (US$ 18,130,000 in 2019). [21]

Occasionally, she played a child, in films such as The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), Daddy-Long-Legs (1919) and Pollyanna (1920). Pickford's fans were devoted to these "little girl" roles, but they were not typical of her career. [1] Due to her lack of a normal childhood, she enjoyed making these pictures. Given how small she was at under five feet, and her naturalistic acting abilities, she was very successful in these roles. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., when he first met her in person as a boy, assumed she was a new playmate for him, and asked her to come and play trains with him, which she obligingly did. [22]

In August 1918, Pickford's contract expired and, when refusing Zukor's terms for a renewal, she was offered $250,000 to leave the motion picture business. She declined, and went to First National Pictures, which agreed to her terms. [23] In 1919, Pickford, along with D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks, formed the independent film production company United Artists. Through United Artists, Pickford continued to produce and perform in her own movies; she could also distribute them as she chose. In 1920, Pickford's film Pollyanna grossed around $1,100,000. [24] The following year, Pickford's film Little Lord Fauntleroy was also a success, and in 1923, Rosita grossed over $1,000,000 as well. [24] During this period, she also made Little Annie Rooney (1925), another film in which Pickford played a child, Sparrows (1926), which blended the Dickensian with newly minted German expressionist style, and My Best Girl (1927), a romantic comedy featuring her future husband Buddy Rogers.

A lobby card for Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921) MaryPickford4.jpg
A lobby card for Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921)

The arrival of sound was her undoing. Pickford underestimated the value of adding sound to movies, claiming that "adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo". [24]

She played a reckless socialite in Coquette (1929), a role for which her famous ringlets were cut into a 1920s' bob. Pickford had already cut her hair in the wake of her mother's death in 1928. Fans were shocked at the transformation. [25] Pickford's hair had become a symbol of female virtue, and when she cut it, the act made front-page news in The New York Times and other papers. Coquette was a success and won her an Academy Award for Best Actress, [26] although this was highly controversial. [27] The public failed to respond to her in the more sophisticated roles. Like most movie stars of the silent era, Pickford found her career fading as talkies became more popular among audiences. [26]

Her next film, The Taming of The Shrew , made with husband Douglas Fairbanks, was not well received at the box office. [28] Established Hollywood actors were panicked by the impending arrival of the talkies. On March 29, 1928, The Dodge Brothers Hour was broadcast from Pickford's bungalow, featuring Fairbanks, Chaplin, Norma Talmadge, Gloria Swanson, John Barrymore, D.W. Griffith, and Dolores del Rio, among others. They spoke on the radio show to prove that they could meet the challenge of talking movies. [29]

A transition in the roles Pickford selected came when she was in her late 30s, no longer able to play the children, teenage spitfires, and feisty young women so adored by her fans, and was not suited for the glamorous and vampish heroines of early sound. In 1933, she underwent a Technicolor screen test for an animated/live action film version of Alice in Wonderland , but Walt Disney discarded the project when Paramount released its own version of the book. Only one Technicolor still of her screen test still exists. She retired from acting in 1933; her last acting film was released in 1934. She continued to produce for others, however, including Sleep, My Love (1948; with Claudette Colbert) and Love Happy (1949), with the Marx Brothers). [1]

The film industry

Mary Pickford giving President Herbert Hoover a ticket for a film industry benefit for the unemployed, 1931 MaryPickfordHoover.gif
Mary Pickford giving President Herbert Hoover a ticket for a film industry benefit for the unemployed, 1931

Pickford used her stature in the movie industry to promote a variety of causes. Although her image depicted fragility and innocence, Pickford proved to be a worthy businesswoman who took control of her career in a cutthroat industry. [30]

During World War I, she promoted the sale of Liberty Bonds, making an intensive series of fund-raising speeches that kicked off in Washington, D.C., where she sold bonds alongside Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Theda Bara, and Marie Dressler. Five days later she spoke on Wall Street to an estimated 50,000 people. Though Canadian-born, she was a powerful symbol of Americana, kissing the American flag for cameras and auctioning one of her world-famous curls for $15,000. In a single speech in Chicago she sold an estimated five million dollars' worth of bonds. She was christened the U.S. Navy's official "Little Sister"; the Army named two cannons after her and made her an honorary colonel. [1]

Portrait photograph of Mary Pickford, 1921 Portrait photograph of Mary Pickford, 1921.jpg
Portrait photograph of Mary Pickford, 1921

At the end of World War I, Pickford conceived of the Motion Picture Relief Fund, an organization to help financially needy actors. Leftover funds from her work selling Liberty Bonds were put toward its creation, and in 1921, the Motion Picture Relief Fund (MPRF) was officially incorporated, with Joseph Schenck voted its first president and Pickford 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 land and build the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital, in Woodland Hills, California. [1]

An astute businesswoman, Pickford became her own producer within three years of her start in features. According to her Foundation, "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". She demanded (and received) these powers in 1916, when she was under contract to Zukor's Famous Players In Famous Plays (later Paramount). Zukor acquiesced to her refusal to participate in block-booking, the widespread practice of forcing an exhibitor to show a bad film of the studio's choosing to also be able to show a Pickford film. In 1916, Pickford's films were distributed, singly, through a special distribution unit called Artcraft. The Mary Pickford Corporation was briefly Pickford's motion-picture production company. [31]

Mary Pickford War Funds bungalow, 1943 Mary Pickford signing the entrance to the Mary Pickford War Funds bungalow.jpg
Mary Pickford War Funds bungalow, 1943

In 1919, she increased her power by co-founding United Artists (UA) with Charlie Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, and her soon-to-be husband, Douglas Fairbanks. Before UA's creation, Hollywood studios were vertically integrated, not only producing films but forming chains of theaters. Distributors (also part of the studios) arranged for company productions to be shown in the company's movie venues. Filmmakers relied on the studios for bookings; in return they put up with what many considered creative interference.[ citation needed ]

United Artists broke from this tradition. It was solely a distribution company, offering independent film producers access to its own screens as well as the rental of temporarily unbooked cinemas owned by other companies. Pickford and Fairbanks produced and shot their films after 1920 at the jointly owned Pickford-Fairbanks studio on Santa Monica Boulevard. The producers who signed with UA were true independents, producing, creating and controlling their work to an unprecedented degree. As a co-founder, as well as the producer and star of her own films, Pickford became the most powerful woman who has ever worked in Hollywood. By 1930, Pickford's acting career had largely faded. [26] After retiring three years later, however, she continued to produce films for United Artists. She and Chaplin remained partners in the company for decades. Chaplin left the company in 1955, and Pickford followed suit in 1956, selling her remaining shares for three million dollars. [31]

Personal life

Mary Pickford, 1921 Mary Pickford portrait.jpg
Mary Pickford, 1921

Pickford was married three times. She married Owen Moore, an Irish-born silent film actor, on January 7, 1911. It is rumored she became pregnant by Moore in the early 1910s and had a miscarriage or an abortion. Some accounts suggest this resulted in her later inability to have children. [1] The couple's marriage was strained by Moore's alcoholism, insecurity about living in the shadow of Pickford's fame, and bouts of domestic violence. The couple lived together on-and-off for several years. [32]

Pickford became secretly involved in a relationship with Douglas Fairbanks. They toured the U.S. together in 1918 to promote Liberty Bond sales for the World War I effort. Around this time, Pickford also suffered from the flu during the 1918 flu pandemic. [33] Pickford divorced Moore on March 2, 1920, after she agreed to his $100,000 demand for a settlement. [34] She married Fairbanks just days later on March 28, 1920. They went to Europe for their honeymoon; fans in London and in Paris caused riots trying to get to the famous couple. The couple's triumphant return to Hollywood was witnessed by vast crowds who turned out to hail them at railway stations across the United States.

The Mark of Zorro (1920) and a series of other swashbucklers gave the popular Fairbanks a more romantic, heroic image. Pickford continued to epitomize the virtuous but fiery girl next door. Even at private parties, people instinctively stood up when Pickford entered a room; she and her husband were often referred to as "Hollywood royalty". Their international reputations were broad. Foreign heads of state and dignitaries who visited the White House often asked if they could also visit Pickfair, the couple's mansion in Beverly Hills. [12]

Dinners at Pickfair became celebrity events. Charlie Chaplin, Fairbanks' best friend, was often present. Other guests included George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein, Elinor Glyn, Helen Keller, H. G. Wells, Lord Mountbatten, Fritz Kreisler, Amelia Earhart, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Noël Coward, Max Reinhardt, Baron Nishi, Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, [35] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Austen Chamberlain, Sir Harry Lauder, and Meher Baba, among others. The public nature of Pickford's second marriage strained it to the breaking point. Both she and Fairbanks had little time off from producing and acting in their films. They were also constantly on display as America's unofficial ambassadors to the world, leading parades, cutting ribbons, and making speeches. When their film careers both began to flounder at the end of the silent era, Fairbanks' restless nature prompted him to overseas travel (something which Pickford did not enjoy). When Fairbanks' romance with Sylvia, Lady Ashley became public in the early 1930s, he and Pickford separated. They divorced January 10, 1936. Fairbanks' son by his first wife, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., claimed his father and Pickford long regretted their inability to reconcile. [1]

On June 24, 1937, Pickford married her third and last husband, actor and band leader Buddy Rogers. They adopted two children: Roxanne (born 1944, adopted 1944) and Ronald Charles (born 1937, adopted 1943, a.k.a. Ronnie Pickford Rogers). A PBS American Experience documentary described Pickford's relationship with her children as tense. She criticized their physical imperfections, including Ronnie's small stature and Roxanne's crooked teeth. Both children later said their mother was too self-absorbed to provide real maternal love. In 2003, Ronnie recalled that "Things didn't work out that much, you know. But I'll never forget her. I think that she was a good woman." [36]

Later years and death

Mary Pickford in Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove (1934), her only film appearance in Technicolor Mary Pickford 1934.JPG
Mary Pickford in Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove (1934), her only film appearance in Technicolor

After retiring from the screen, Pickford became an alcoholic, as her father had been. Her mother Charlotte died of breast cancer in March 1928. Her siblings, Lottie and Jack, both died of alcohol-related causes. These deaths, her divorce from Fairbanks, and the end of silent films left Pickford deeply depressed. Her relationship with her adopted children, Roxanne and Ronald, was turbulent at best. Pickford withdrew and gradually became a recluse, remaining almost entirely at Pickfair and allowing visits only from Lillian Gish, her stepson Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and few other people. She appeared in court in 1959, in a matter pertaining to her co-ownership of North Carolina TV station WSJS-TV. The court date coincided with the date of her 67th birthday; under oath, when asked to give her age, Pickford replied: "I'm 21, going on 20." [37]

In the mid-1960s, Pickford often received visitors only by telephone, speaking to them from her bedroom. Buddy Rogers often gave guests tours of Pickfair, including views of a genuine western bar Pickford had bought for Douglas Fairbanks, and a portrait of Pickford in the drawing room. A print of this image now hangs in the Library of Congress. [31] In addition to her Oscar as best actress for Coquette (1929), Mary Pickford received an Academy Honorary Award in 1976 for lifetime achievement. The Academy sent a TV crew to her house to record her short statement of thanks – offering the public a very rare glimpse into Pickfair Manor. [38]

Pickford believed that she had ceased to be a British subject when she married an American citizen upon her marriage to Fairbanks in 1920. [39] Thus, she never acquired Canadian citizenship when it was first created in 1947. However, Pickford held and traveled under a British/Canadian passport which she renewed regularly at the British/Canadian consulates in Los Angeles, and she did not take out papers for American citizenship. She also owned a house in Toronto, Canada. Toward the end of her life, Pickford made arrangements with the Canadian Department of Citizenship to officially acquire Canadian citizenship because she wished to "die as a Canadian". Canadian authorities were not sure that she had ever lost her Canadian citizenship, given her passport status, but her request was approved and she officially became a Canadian citizen. [40] [41]

The tomb of actress Mary Pickford in the Garden of Memory, Forest Lawn Glendale Mary Pickford Tomb.JPG
The tomb of actress Mary Pickford in the Garden of Memory, Forest Lawn Glendale

On May 29, 1979, Pickford died at a Santa Monica, California, hospital of complications from a cerebral hemorrhage she had suffered the week before. [42] She was interred in the Garden of Memory of the Forest Lawn Memorial Park cemetery in Glendale, California.

Legacy

Pickford's handprints and footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California Grauman's Chinese Theatre, mary pickford.JPG
Pickford's handprints and footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California
Pickford's star on the Walk of Fame in Toronto Mary Pickford star on Walk of Fame.jpg
Pickford's star on the Walk of Fame in Toronto
Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood, California PickfordCenter01.jpg
Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood, California

Filmography

See also

Notes

  1. 211 University Avenue at the time of Mary Pickford's birth was at the corner of University Avenue and Elm Street, now the location of the Hospital for Sick Children. University Avenue was later extended south of Queen Street and the addresses renumbered.

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Lottie Pickford was a Canadian-born silent film actress and socialite. She was the younger sister of fellow actress Mary Pickford and elder sister of actor Jack Pickford.

Mary Pickford filmography filmography

Mary Pickford (1892–1979) was a Canadian motion picture actress, producer, and writer. During the silent film era she became one of the first great celebrities of the cinema and a popular icon known to the public as "America's Sweetheart".

Mary Pickford (Used to Eat Roses) 2007 single by Katie Melua

"Mary Pickford" is a song written and produced by Mike Batt for the Georgian-born, British singer Katie Melua. It is Melua's tenth single and the second from her third album, Pictures. It was originally inspired by a daily facts calendar owned by Batt that one day featured the fact that Mary Pickford used to eat roses.

<i>Little Annie Rooney</i> (1925 film) 1925 film directed by William Beaudine

Little Annie Rooney is a 1925 American silent comedy-drama film starring Mary Pickford and directed by William Beaudine. Pickford, one of the most successful actresses of the silent era, was best known throughout her career for her iconic portrayals of penniless young girls. After generating only modest box office revenue playing adults in her previous two films, Pickford wrote and produced Little Annie Rooney to cater to silent film audiences. Though she was 33 years old, Pickford played the title role, an Irish girl living in the slums of New York City.

<i>The Biograph Girl</i> musical

The Biograph Girl is a musical with a book by Warner Brown, lyrics by Brown and David Heneker, and music by Heneker. Its plot focuses on the silent film era and five pioneers of American cinema - actresses Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish, directors D. W. Griffith and Mack Sennett, and Paramount Pictures founder Adolph Zukor.

Biograph Girl was a phrase associated with two early-20th-century actresses, Florence Lawrence and Mary Pickford, who made black-and-white silent films with the Biograph Company. At that time, all studios refused to give actors on-screen film credit; they did not want them to gain public celebrity status and command higher salaries. This had already happened with stage actors, and the studios did not want to repeat the trend on film.

<i>Hollywood</i> (1923 film) 1923 film by James Cruze

Hollywood is a 1923 American silent comedy film directed by James Cruze, co-written by Frank Condon and Thomas J. Geraghty, and released by Paramount Pictures. The film is a lengthier feature follow-up to Paramount's own short film exposé of itself, A Trip to Paramountown from 1922.

The Mary Pickford Award is an honorary Satellite Award bestowed by the International Press Academy. It is “IPA’s most prestigious honor” and as an award “for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to the Entertainment Industry” it reflects a lifetime of achievement.

References

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Further reading