Mary Pickford, America’s Bride

Mary Pickford, in ‘Tess in the Land of Storms’.

His life is the symbol of the growth of American cinema, from a few acres in sunny California to the powerful film industry that it is today.


She was the first great star in movie history and the most powerful woman of her time. She was Mary Pickford, actress, producer, businesswoman and the first actress to win an Oscar in the talkies… She was America’s girlfriend, a title that many other actresses would later try to inherit without ever reaching the bottom of her heels. His life is the symbol of the growth of American cinema, from a few acres in sunny California to the mighty movie industry. Mary Pickford was the first great star in history, adored by millions of people around the planet,
with her the ‘star system’ was born.

Gladys Marie Smith, that was her real name (Toronto, Canada, April 9, 1893 – Santa Monica, California, May 29, 1979),
He lived a childhood worthy of a Dickens novel. The daughter of an alcoholic father who died when she was 4 years old, her mother was forced to accept guests at her home in order to support Mary and her two younger siblings. Most of the tenants who passed by his house were actors who went on tour with their companies in Canada and the United States. One of them provided ‘little Mary’, as she would be known in those early years, her stage debut.She received $ 10 a week and immediately her mother became her inseparable manager until her death in 1927.

Her success was immediate and she began to work non-stop (she barely went to school for 10 months), soon becoming Baby Gladys Smith in a traveling company. Between 1901 and 1904 she traveled constantly, living precariously and learning to take care of herself, which explains her later predilection for embodying on the screen
young girls charged with responsibility that they alone should support their entire family.

Helpless girl

At the age of fifteen, young Mary traveled alone to New York to ask David Belasco, producer of hit Broadway plays, for a job. It is the summer of 1907 when, together with Belasco, she decides to change her name to Mary Pickford for her theatrical work, but she soon discovered cinema when, curious about the new art, she visits David Wark Griffith’s studio. His film debut took place at the hands of Griffith in 1909, with the short film
‘Mr. Jones Entertains’. He makes several shorts with Griffith, in many of which he shares the limelight with Owen Moore, whom he would secretly marry in 1911. Her image of a helpless and poor young woman, with funny curls, who seemed younger than she actually was it struck a chord with viewers, making it impossible for their marriage to be disclosed. At the same time, she is interested in all the technical details of a movie, experiences different types of makeup, lighting, and in a short time Mary becomes America’s girlfriend, and the first actress whose name opens the credits of her films. , with fans all over the world, and at the same time he begins to write the scripts for his own characters.

Pickford, and ‘Rosita’.

The most powerful woman in America

‘Poor rich girl’ (‘The Poor Little Rich Girl’) y
‘Rebeca the one of the farm of the sun’ (‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’) were his first successes as feature films, in 1917. It was around this time that he met Douglas Fairbanks, a successful actor famous for his roles as an exotic heartthrob, married with a daughter. They fall in love, causing their relationship to have a real impact on public opinion, and they marry on March 28, 1920 after getting their respective divorces. In January 1919 she is already the most powerful woman in America.
Mary and Douglas Fairbanks, along with Charles Chaplin and DW Griffith, found United Artists, creating one of the most powerful studios in Hollywood. Chaplin himself is amazed at the financial savvy Mary Pickford possesses.

In 1926 he rolled
‘Sparrows’ (‘Sparrows’), the last time Mary Pickford dresses and makes up like a girl.
He had already turned 32, twice as long as his character should have. In the film, she was the oldest of nine abandoned siblings kept confined by an evil couple in a shack next to a creepy swamp. The flight of the little ones through the swamp, crossing over the crocodile-infested waters, walking on a log without losing their balance, is a long time ago. For almost 20 years she has been playing roles as a child or adolescent, even though in real life she was a smart, adult businesswoman married to Douglas Faibanks.

The actress’s mother dies and Mary decides to abandon her roles as a poor orphan, cuts her curls in front of the press and is a year without work, the first of her entire career. His next movie,
‘Coquette’, was the first sound and a radical change in his work. Thanks to her, he got the first Oscar awarded in the history of talkies to the best actress. He only makes four talkies and only acts alongside Douglas Faibanks in
‘The tamed fierecilla’.

Bitter end

In 1933,
‘Secrets’ becomes his last film. Her marriage to Douglas Fairbanks was falling apart, and the death of her brother Jack and her mother had created in her a state of utter depression, increased by the dramatic death of her other sister in 1936, adopting her daughter. More and more secluded in her mansion,
continued to produce films until 1956, the year in which he sold his stake in United Artists, but it never returns to act in any other.

Earlier, in June 1937, she married Charles Rogers, twelve years younger and with whom she would adopt, in 1943, two children: Ronald and Roxanne. Bitter, at the end of the 1950s she acquired her old films with the intention of destroying them, preferring to be “a beautiful memory rather than an anachronism preserved on celluloid.” Fortunately, the efforts of several people, especially her friend and partner from the Griffith films, Lillian Gish, to give up that idea, paid off and today these jewels of a helpless young woman are preserved, who went through all kinds of misfortunes, to finally emerge triumphant, thrilling the audience.

On May 29, 1979, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage at his home in Santa Monica, at the age of 87., after having fallen into alcoholism and having lived for decades in total seclusion with her husband and children, oblivious to the ‘star system’ she had invented, receiving only very few visits from her friends.