|Real Name||Gladys Louis Smith|
|Date of Death||May 29, 1979|
|Spouse(s)||Owen Moore, Douglas Fairbanks, Buddy Rogers|
|Career||Theater and Film Actress|
|Children||Roxanne, Ronald; both adopted|
|Notable Films||Pollyanna, Daddy Long Legs|
|Net Worth||$40 million|
Mary Pickford, who was born as Gladys Louise Smith, is one of the most acclaimed actresses and producers in the film industry. Her career spans a long 50 years, with most of it helping build up the film and entertainment industry in the U.S. and abroad.
She co-founded the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio, as well as the United Artists film studio. Pickford is also one of the 36 founders of the famous Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who are the ones giving the annual Oscars awarding.
During her prime, she was known as the Sweetheart of America and the “girl with the curls.” Many also consider her one of the most significant figures who helped develop film acting into what it is today.
She’s one of the greatest and most popular actresses from 1910 to 1920, even making it to the point of being called as the Queen of Movies. Indeed, Mary Pickford is a legend to behold in the film industry.
Early Life and Family
Mary Pickford was born as Gladys Louis Smith in 1892. The exact date of her birth is unknown. She would even claim in some interviews that her birth year was 1893 and 1894. What’s sure, though, is that she was born in 211 University Avenue, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Her father is John Charles Smith, who is one of the children of the original English Methodist immigrants. Her mom was Charlotte Hennessey, an Irish Catholic seamstress.
She has two younger siblings named Charlotte and John Charles who were born in 1893 and 1896 respectively. They also became actors. Mary, together with her other siblings were all baptized as Methodists to be in favor of her husband’s family.
Unfortunately, his dad was an alcoholic who later abandoned them. He died on Feb. 11, 1898, due to severe blood clot after a workplace accident. Her love for acting started out in 1909 when D.W. Griffith, a company director for Biograph did a screen test on her for Pippa Passes, a Nickelodeon film.
Most actors and actresses during that time were paid $5 daily, but Pickford earned more as she got $10 for every day that she worked with Biograph. She experienced working on a lot of roles that time, such as a charwoman, mother, Native American, slave, and spurned woman.
She then left Biograph in Dec. 1910, but immediately starred in films under the Independent Moving Pictures Company, which later became known as Universal Pictures in 1912. Many considered her the most famous woman in the world from 1910 to 1920.
There were even journalists describing her as one of the best women who has ever lived in history.
Rise to Stardom
Mary appeared in 52 films throughout her successful career. One of her most notable deals was signed on June 24, 1916, when she was given access to produce films which she starred in.
She also received $10,000 per week, which became a record for the highest salary received by an actress at that time. She also was entitled to receive half of the profits of the films and was guaranteed $1,040,000.
Some of her most notable roles were in movies such as “The Poor Little Rich Girl,” Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,” “Pollyanna,” and “Daddy Long Legs.” Then came sound films, which surprisingly she didn’t agree on.
In fact, she saw sound films to be inferior to the silent films as she said that it was unnecessary and removed the essence of acting. There was also her role where she starred as a socialite in Coquette. It was a startling moment for her fans as she cut her hair during that time.
Her hair was so important that it became a symbol of female virtue during that time. It even was featured on the front page of newspapers during that time.
Net Worth and Beyond Film
Mary Pickford has been very successful in her career, thus, she was able to reach a net worth of $40 million at her peak and until she grew old. Mary used her status in the film industry to promote numerous causes.
And even if her image showed the fragility of women, she still proved that she knew the ins and outs of becoming a successful businesswoman.
She sold liberty bonds during World War I alongside famous actors and celebrities, Charlie Chaplin, Theda Bara, Marie Dressler, and Douglas Fairbanks.
Pickford also helped conceive the Motion Picture Relief Fund after World War I to help actors who were in dire need of financial help.
Mary Pickford had a huge role in the filming of her movies as she was the one in charge of hiring the actors as well as the crew needed to help produce the films. Mary also did the scripts, editing, and the promotion and release of every project.
By 1919, she founded United Artists together with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith. Her acting career then started to fade in the 1930s. However, she still continued producing films together with Chaplin. Mary sold her shares after Chaplin for $3 million.
Pickford went through three different marriages with her first being with Owen Moore, a silent film actor from Ireland. Their wedding date was Jan. 7, 1911. Rumors say she became pregnant but suffered miscarriage or likely abortion.
Some even say this is the reason why she became incapable of having children. However, their marriage didn’t last as they separated in 1920 where she received $100,000 as settlement. She then married Douglas Fairbanks on the same year and went to Europe for their honeymoon.
But then again, they didn’t last, mainly due to the fact they had little time with each other. Pickford then married her last husband, which is officially her third, named Buddy Rogers. Their wedding happened on June 24, 1937.
They didn’t have any kids which is why they decided to adopt two children. They were Roxanne and Ronald. Surprisingly, she didn’t treat her kids as their own as it has been reported she usually criticized them of their physical looks such as their short height and crooked teeth.
Death and Legacy
Mary Pickford died on May 29, 1979, aged 82-years-old, at a hospital in Santa Monica, California due to cerebral hemorrhage complications she has suffered lately. She was buried at the Garden of Memory of the Forest Lawn Memorial Park cemetery located in Glendale.
Mary is more than just an actress and showbiz personality. Instead, she showed that she can leave a lasting impact on the industry she called her own.
Without her, the film and entertainment industry we have now would surely be different, even possible inferior to the level of quality the films and shows we have today.
Furthermore, Pickford showed how celebrities can be more than just mere icons, as she became a full-time philanthropist helping fellow peers and actors in the industry.