Mary Pickford (1893-1979)

“America’s Sweetheart”

She was called “America’s Sweetheart”, but really she was the “World’s Sweetheart”, since she was a bigger world box office draw than any of her silent film star contemporaries. Mary Pickford delighted the hearts of millions of filmgoers from 1909 to 1933. With her beautiful blonde curls, her sweet face, and her childlike air of innocence on screen, she was the most beloved and famous female movie star of the silent era. Crowds mobbed her wherever she went, in America or overseas. Mary was an incredible actress; from the distance of eight decades her beautiful performances do not pale, but in fact grow all the more bittersweet, especially considering the typical shallow movie fare Hollywood puts out today in comparison.

Born Gladys Marie Smith in Toronto, Canada on April 8th, 1893, she became a child actress at the age of five, after her father’s death. Touring nationally as “Baby Gladys”, she became the chief source of income for her family; eventually her sister Lottie and brother Jack also went into acting as well. At age 14 Mary was on Broadway with impresario David Belasco’s troupe, and at age 16 she became a Biograph Player, working with director D.W. Griffith. Like the other players in Griffith’s stock company, her name was not listed in the credits, but Mary was noticed right away by audiences, and gained the nickname “the girl with the golden curls”. She progressed from shorts to features within a few years. Films of special note for Mary were 1917’s “Poor Little Rich Girl”, “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”, and “The Little Princess”, 1918’s “Stella Maris” and “M’Liss”, and 1919’s “Daddy Long Legs”, “The Hoodlum” and “Heart of the Hills”. Mary was married three times, each time to actors. She was married to Owen Moore from 1911 to 1920, to Douglas Fairbanks from 1920 to 1936, and then to Charles “Buddy” Rogers from 1937 until her death in 1979. She and Rogers adopted 2 children. During World War One Mary was responsible for raising millions of dollars in war bonds to help the United States. She had become a citizen of the U.S., while still holding her Canadian citizenship.

Mary worked for many different studios in addition to Biograph, such as Artcraft, IMP, Famous Players, Goldwyn and First National, before starting up her own film company with Douglas Fairbanks, Charles Chaplin, and D.W. Griffith called United Artists. United Artists allowed Mary even more artistic and financial control over her film projects. Under UA Mary made additional financially successful and memorable films, including “Pollyanna” (1920), praised by ministerial associations across the country for its purity and sweetness, “Little Lord Fauntleroy” (1921), in which she played dual roles as the mother and the little boy, “Tess of the Storm Country” (1922), “Little Annie Rooney” (1925) and “Sparrows” (1926), her last film playing a waif-like young teen. Mary’s last silent film was “My Best Girl” in 1927, in which she starred with her future third husband Charles “Buddy” Rogers. It is a touching romance between rich boy and poor girl, with some great acting by Mary. Mary went on to make several sound films, playing grown up ladies, including 1929’s “Coquette”, for which she won a Best Actress Academy Award, but then she chose to retire from the screen in 1934. A little girl named Shirley Temple became the next generation’s favorite child star on screen, and it is interesting to note that some of Shirley’s films were based loosely on plots from Mary’s films made a decade or more earlier.

Mary wrote three books in her lifetime: a religious book entitled “Why Not Try God?” published in 1934, “My Rendezvous With Life”, a brief autobiography published in 1935, and then a larger autobiography “Sunshine and Shadow”, published in 1955. She won a Special Academy Award in 1976 for lifetime achievement. Mary Pickford died in Santa Monica, California on Mary 29th, 1979 from a cerebral hemorrhage. She was a pioneering, unique artist, writer, and director; a savvy businesswoman in an industry controlled by men, a strong woman who took pride in making quality films which still hold up beautifully today, and she will never be forgotten.
~ Copyright © 2004

Vintage Bio from “Who’s Who On The Screen” (1920): “Mary Pickford was born in Toronto, Canada in 1893 and first appeared before the public with the Valentine Stock Company of Toronto, when but 5 years old. She has since appeared on the speaking stage with Chauncey Olcott in “Edmund Burke” and in the Belasco productions of “The Warrens of Virginia” and “A Good Little Devil.” Her first screen appearance was with the old Biograph Company in the film play “The Violin Maker of Cremona” directed by D.W. Griffith. Since then she has become one of the greatest and best-liked screen players. Mary Pickford is 5 feet high, weighs 105 pounds and has golden hair and hazel eyes. Her sister Lottie and brother Jack also appear before the camera. She is the wife of Douglas Fairbanks.”

To download a vintage bio of Mary Pickford from “The Blue Book of the Screen” (1924) please click HERE  (288 kb)

Mary Pickford Photo Gallery

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Mary Pickford’s Silent Films

My Best Girl (1927) …. Maggie Johnson
Sparrows (1926) …. Molly
… aka Human Sparrows (1926) (UK)
Black Pirate, The (1926) (uncredited) …. Double for Billie Dove in Final Embrace
… aka Black Buccaneer, The (1926)
Ben-Hur (1925) (uncredited) …. Crowd extra in chariot race
… aka Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)
Little Annie Rooney (1925) …. Annabelle ‘Little Annie’ Rooney
Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall (1924) …. Dorothy Vernon
Rosita (1923) …. Rosita, a street singer
Hollywood (1923) …. Cameo appearance
… aka Joligud (1923)
Tess of the Storm Country (1922) …. Tessibel ‘Tess’ Skinner
Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921) …. Little Lord Fauntleroy/Dearest
Through the Back Door (1921) …. Jeanne
Nut, The (1921) …. Extra
Love Light, The (1921) …. Angela Carlotti
Suds (1920) …. Amanda Afflick
Pollyanna (1920) …. Pollyanna Whittier
Heart o’ the Hills (1919) …. Mavis Hawn
… aka Heart of the Hills (1919)
Hoodlum, The (1919) …. Amy Burke
… aka Ragamuffin, The (1919) (UK)
Daddy-Long-Legs (1919) …. Jerusha ‘Judy’ Abbott
Captain Kidd, Jr. (1919) …. Mary MacTavish
One Hundred Percent American (1918)
Johanna Enlists (1918) …. Johanna Renssaller
How Could You, Jean? (1918) …. Jean Mackaye
M’Liss (1918) …. M’liss Smith
Amarilly of Clothes-Line Alley (1918) …. Amarilly Jenkins
Stella Maris (1918) …. Miss Stella Maris/Unity Blake
All-Star Production of Patriotic Episodes for the Second Liberty Loan (1917)
Little Princess, The (1917) …. Sara Crewe
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917) …. Rebecca Randall
Little American, The (1917) …. Angela Moore
Romance of the Redwoods, A (1917) …. Jenny Lawrence
Poor Little Rich Girl, The (1917) …. Gwendolyn
Pride of the Clan, The (1917) …. Marget MacTavish
Less Than the Dust (1916) …. Radha
Hulda From Holland (1916) …. Hulda
Eternal Grind, The (1916) …. Louise
Poor Little Peppina (1916) …. Peppina
… aka Little Peppina (1916) (USA)
Foundling, The (1916) …. Molly O
… aka Miss Jenny (1916)
Broken Hearts (1915)
Foundling, The (1915)
Madame Butterfly (1915) …. Cho-Cho-San
Girl of Yesterday, A (1915) …. Jane Stuart
Esmeralda (1915) …. Esmeralda Rogers
Rags (1915) …. Rags/Alice McCloud
Little Pal (1915) …. ‘Little Pal’
Dawn of a Tomorrow, The (1915) …. Glad
Fanchon, the Cricket (1915/I) …. Fanchon, the cricket
Mistress Nell (1915) …. Nell Gwyn
Cinderella (1914/I) …. Cinderella
… aka Stepsister, The (1914) (USA: alternative title)
Behind the Scenes (1914) …. Dolly Lane
Such a Little Queen (1914) …. Queen Anna Victoria
Eagle’s Mate, The (1914) …. Anemone Breckenridge
Tess of the Storm Country (1914) …. Tessibel Skinner
Good Little Devil, A (1914) …. Juliet
Hearts Adrift (1914) …. Nina
Caprice (1913) …. Mercy Baxter
In the Bishop’s Carriage (1913) …. Nance Olden
Fate (1913)
Unwelcome Guest, The (1913) …. The Slavey
Grannie (1912)
New York Hat, The (1912) …. Miss Mollie Goodhue (the girl)
Informer, The (1912) …. The Confederate Captain’s Sweetheart
My Baby (1912) …. The Wife
One She Loved, The (1912) …. The Wife
Feud in the Kentucky Hills, A (1912) …. The Daughter
So Near, Yet So Far (1912) …. The Young Woman
Friends (1912) …. Dora, the Orphan
Pueblo Legend, A (1912) …. The Indian Girl
Pueblo Romance, A (1912)
With the Enemy’s Help (1912) …. Faro Kate
Inner Circle, The (1912) …. The Rich Italian’s Daughter
Child’s Remorse, A (1912)
Narrow Road, The (1912) …. Mrs. Jim Holcomb
Indian Summer, An (1912) …. The Widow’s Daughter
School Teacher and the Waif, The (1912) …. Nora, the Waif
Lena and the Geese (1912) …. Lena
Home Folks (1912) …. The Young Woman
Beast at Bay, A (1912) …. The Young Woman
Lodging for the Night, A (1912) …. The Mexican Girl
Old Actor, The (1912) …. The Old Actor’s Daughter
Won by a Fish (1912) …. The Woman
Just Like a Woman (1912) …. The Young Woman
Female of the Species, The (1912) …. The Miner’s Wife’s Sister
Fate’s Interception (1912) …. The Mexican Girl
Iola’s Promise (1912) …. Iola
Timely Repentance, A (1912) …. Heroine of the Movie with the Movie, ‘The Wife’s Destruction’
Siren of Impulse, A (1912)
Mender of Nets, The (1912) …. The Net-Mender
Honor Thy Father (1912/II)
Caddy’s Dream, The (1911)
Daddy’s Dream, The (1911)
Dog’s Tale, A (1911)
Honor Thy Father (1911)
Portrait, The (1911)
Little Red Riding Hood (1911/I)
Love Heeds Not the Showers (1911)
Courting of Mary, The (1911) …. Mary
From the Bottom of the Sea (1911)
His Dress Shirt (1911)
Aggressor, The (1911)
Better Way, The (1911)
… aka Mary’s Convert (1914) (USA: reissue title)
Sentinel Asleep, The (1911)
‘Tween Two Loves (1911)
By the House That Jack Built (1911)
Toss of a Coin, The (1911)
Call of the Song, The (1911)
Skating Bug, The (1911)
Science (1911) …. Mrs. Crawford
At a Quarter of Two (1911)
… aka Mr. Burglar, M.D. (1914) (USA: reissue title)
Gasoline Engagement, A (1911)
For the Queen’s Honor (1911) …. The Queen’s Sister
In the Sultan’s Garden (1911)
Behind the Stockade (1911) …. Lucy
Back to the Soil (1911)
Lighthouse Keeper, The (1911)
Master and the Man, The (1911) …. Elsie Graham
For Her Brother’s Sake (1911/I)
Fair Dentist, The (1911) …. Edith Morton
… aka Mary’s Patients (1914) (USA: reissue title)
Temptress, The (1911)
Second Sight (1911) …. Gertrude Edgar
Stampede, The (1911)
Sweet Memories (1911)
… aka Sweetheart Days (1914) (USA: reissue title)
In Old Madrid (1911)
Fisher-Maid, The (1911)
… aka Fishermaid, The (1911) (USA)
Conscience (1911)
Message in the Bottle, The (1911)
Decree of Destiny, A (1911) …. Mary
Manly Man, A (1911)
Artful Kate (1911)
Pictureland (1911)
Convert, The (1911)
Her Darkest Hour (1911)
Mirror, The (1911)
When the Cat’s Away (1911)
At the Duke’s Command (1911)
Three Sisters (1911) …. Mary
Maid or Man (1911)
Dream, The (1911)
Italian Barber, The (1911) …. Alice
Their First Misunderstanding (1911)
When a Man Loves (1911) …. Tessie
Little Nell’s Tobacco (1910)
White Roses (1910) …. Betty
Child’s Stratagem, A (1910)
Plain Song, A (1910) …. Edith
Song of the Wildwood Flute, The (1910) …. Dove Eyes
Sunshine Sue (1910)
Simple Charity (1910) (as Gladys Nicholson) …. Miss Wilkins
Waiter No. 5 (1910) …. The Chief of Police’s Son’s Fiancée
Lucky Toothache, A (1910) …. Bessie
Masher, The (1910)
That Chink at Golden Gulch (1910)
Gold Necklace, A (1910) …. Mazie
Iconoclast, The (1910)
Examination Day at School (1910)
Summer Tragedy, A (1910) …. (unconfirmed)
Little Angels of Luck (1910) …. (unconfirmed)
Muggsy Becomes a Hero (1910) …. Mabel
Willful Peggy (1910) …. Peggy
Sorrows of the Unfaithful, The (1910) …. Mary
When We Were in Our Teens (1910) …. Mary
Usurer, The (1910) …. Invalid Daughter
Arcadian Maid, An (1910) …. Priscilla
Call to Arms, The (1910) …. A Messenger
Serious Sixteen (1910)
Flash of Light, A (1910)
What the Daisy Said (1910) …. Martha
Muggsy’s First Sweetheart (1910) …. Mabel Brown
Child’s Impulse, A (1910) …. Grace
May and December (1910) …. May
Never Again (1910) …. The Girl
Face at the Window, The (1910)
In the Border States (1910)
Victim of Jealousy, A (1910) …. The Wife’s Friend
In the Season of Buds (1910) …. Mabel
Ramona (1910) …. Ramona
Affair of Hearts, An (1910)
Love Among the Roses (1910) …. The Lacemaker
Unchanging Sea, The (1910) …. The Daughter as an Adult
Kid, The (1910) (unconfirmed)
Romance of the Western Hills, A (1910) …. Indian
Rich Revenge, A (1910) …. Jennie
As It Is in Life (1910) …. George Forrester’s Daughter, as an Adult
Two Brothers, The (1910) …. Mexican
His Last Dollar (1910)
Smoker, The (1910) …. George’s Wife
Twisted Trail, The (1910) …. Molly Hendricks
Thread of Destiny, The (1910) …. Myrtle
Newlyweds, The (1910) …. Alice Vance
Englishman and the Girl, The (1910) …. The Girl
Woman From Mellon’s, The (1910) …. Mary Petersby, the Daughter
Call, The (1910)
All on Account of the Milk (1910) …. The Young Woman
Heart of an Outlaw, The (1909)
To Save Her Soul (1909) …. Agnes Hailey
Test, The (1909) …. Bessie
Trick That Failed, The (1909) …. Nellie Burt
Mountaineer’s Honor, The (1909) …. Harum-Scarum, a Mountain Girl
Midnight Adventure, A (1909) …. Eleanor
Sweet Revenge, A (1909)
Light That Came, The (1909)
Restoration, The (1909) …. Alice Ashford
Gibson Goddess, The (1909) …. On Sidewalk
What’s Your Hurry? (1909) …. Mary
Lines of White on a Sullen Sea (1909) …. Second Couple
In the Watches of the Night (1909) …. At Brainard’s
His Lost Love (1909) …. Mary
Little Teacher, The (1909) …. The Little Teacher
Awakening, The (1909) …. The Widow’s Daughter
Wanted, a Child (1909)
In Old Kentucky (1909) …. Homecoming Party
Broken Locket, The (1909) …. Ruth King
Children’s Friend, The (1909)
Getting Even (1909) …. Miss Lucy
Hessian Renegades, The (1909) …. Soldier’s Family
… aka 1776 (1909)
… aka 1776, or The Hessian Renegades (1909) (USA)
Little Darling, The (1909) …. Little Darling
Sealed Room, The (1909) …. A Lady-in-Waiting
Oh, Uncle! (1909) …. Bessie
Seventh Day, The (1909) …. The Maid
Indian Runner’s Romance, The (1909) …. Blue Cloud’s Wife
His Wife’s Visitor (1909) …. Bessie Wright
They Would Elope (1909) …. Bessie
Strange Meeting, A (1909)
Slave, The (1909) …. A Young Girl at Court
Sweet and Twenty (1909) …. Alice
Renunciation, The (1909) …. Kittie Ryan
Tender Hearts (1909) …. Nellie
Cardinal’s Conspiracy, The (1909) …. A Disguised Servant
… aka Richelieu or the Cardinal’s Conspiracy (1909)
Country Doctor, The (1909) …. Elder Daughter
Necklace, The (1909) …. The Maid/In Pawnshop
Way of Man, The (1909) …. Winnie, Mabel’s Cousin
Mexican Sweethearts, The (1909) …. The Señorita
Peachbasket Hat, The (1909) …. On Street/In Store
Faded Lilies, The (1909) …. At Party
Her First Biscuits (1909) …. Biscuit Victim
Son’s Return, The (1909) …. Mary Clark
Lonely Villa, The (1909) …. One of the Cullison Children
Violin Maker of Cremona, The (1909) …. Giannina, Taddeo’s Daughter
What Drink Did (1909)
His Duty (1909) …. One of the children on the street
Two Memories (1909) …. Marion’s Sister
Drive for Life, The (1909)
Deception, The (1909)
Fascinating Mrs. Francis, The (1909)
Mrs. Jones Entertains (1909) (as Dorothy Nicholson)

To learn more about Mary Pickford visit her profile on The Internet Movie Database


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