Mary Pickford is a silent movie icon. She was a true pioneer of early films. At the time she was the most famous woman in the world. She pioneered a more naturalistic style of acting that was less theatrical. She played working class heroines and was able to play little girl roles in her 20’s and 30’s. Her fans adored her in these roles. Some of these films include: Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms (1917), and Pollyanna (1920). In Stella Maris (1918) Pickford plays two roles: Stella Maris and Unity Blake. As Unity Blake Pickford is totally unrecognizable. Again in Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921) she plays two roles: Cedric Errol (Lord Fauntleroy) and Widow Errol. During WWI she helped to sell Liberty Bonds with Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin.
In 1919 together with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D. W. Griffin they formed United Artists. Pickford was the star of her own films as well as producer. Her first film for United Artists was Pollyanna (1920).
In 1920 Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks married. They were international movie stars and they were Hollywood’s first royal couple. On their honeymoon to Europe and their return to the States crowds would gather just to glimpse the famous couple. They made one film together, the first sound version of The Taming of the Shrew (1929). Their storybook marriage came to an end when they divorced in 1936. In 1937 she would marry her co-star from the film My Best Girl (1927), Charles “Buddy” Rogers. They were married until her death in 1979.
Pickford and Fairbanks bought a hunting lodge in Beverly Hills and remodeled it in the Tudor fashion. An invitation to Pickfair was very coveted. The parties were legendary with guest including Amelia Earhart, Charlie Chaplin, Rudolph Valentino, Helen Keller and F. Scott Fitzgerald to name a few. Pickford kept a guestbook of the many people who had walked through the doors. The home was the first in Los Angeles to have an in ground pool. Sadly the home was demolished to its foundation and rebuilt.
In 1929 Pickford won an Oscar for Best Actress in Coquette (her first talkie). She also received an Academy Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1976.
Audiences tastes had changed and talkies were the new thing. Pickford’s career declined. In 1933 she made her last movie Secrets with Leslie Howard. In 1934 she retired.
Mary Pickford was an extraordinary woman who helped shape Hollywood in the early years. It’s almost hard to believe that some of her films are already 100 years old. Her films today are just as wonderful as they were then.