Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford was born Gladys Marie Smith on the 8th of April 1892 in Toronto Canada.  Mary had a very distinguished Hollywood career and was one of the co-founders of the film studio United Artists. She was also one of the original thirty-six founders of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts Sciences. Mary was one of many Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood and she played a significant role in the development of film acting.
Mary started her career in the early 1900’s with her mother and two siblings and toured the United States in third rate acting companies. She was about to give up acting after six years of failing when in 1907 she ended up landing the supporting role in the Broadway play The Warrens of Virginia. In 1909 the Biograph Company screen tested Mary for a role in the Nickelodeon film Pippa Passes. Although the role when to someone else, Griffith the director for the company was immediately taken with Mary and agreed to pay the unheard of price of $10 a day with a guarantee of $40 a week if she would sign with them. She played roles that spanned characters such as scrubwomen, and secretaries to ingénues and spitfires. Pickford managed to appear in fifty-one films in 1909.

In 1910 Mary traveled with the Biograph crew to Los Angeles in an effort to escape the weak light and short days of winter and swiftly became involved in the movies Sweet and Twenty, They would Elope, and To Save her Soul while in California. Soon the audiences recognized her and her popularity began to grow. Mary left Biograph in 1910 and spent 1911 staring in Independent Moving Pictures Company which would be later absorbed into Universal Pictures. Throughout the 1910’s and 1920’s Mary Pickford was to be believed to be the most famous woman in the world.

Over the course of her career she stared in such films as The Poor Little Rich Girl, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and Daddy Long Legs, and Pollyanna. Her films grossed up to and over $1,000,000. Sadly the arrival of sound was Mary’s undoing. She underestimated the value of adding sound to film. She was famously quoted in saying “Adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo.”

In 1919 she co-founded Untied Artists with Charlie Chaplin and D. W. Griffith and her soon to be husband Douglas Fairbanks. When she retired in 1933 Mary continued to produce films for United Artists leaving the company finally in 1956.

Mary passed away on the 29th of May, 1979 in Santa Monica. 

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