Approached by an executive from Triangle Pictures, she was put under contract and in 1916 made her motion picture debut using her married name, Thomas. She went on to appear in more than twenty Hollywood films over the next four years. Through her work she met actor Jack Pickford (1896-1933), an alcoholic, drug-using, womanizer who lived extravagantly off the wealth and fame of his sister, Mary Pickford. They married in October of 1916, and although Olive was the love of his life, the marriage was a stormy one sometimes filled with highly charged conflict followed by lavish making up through expensive gifts. Alcohol began playing a larger and larger role in Thomas' life and in a short span crashed her automobile on three occasions. In 1918, film mogul and master promoter, Myron Selznick signed her for Selznick Pictures Company. The following year, gossip columnists such as Louella Parsons were gushing about her career and the name Olive Thomas was emblazoned in electric lights on Broadway while magazines were filled with stories and photos of her soaring career.
By 1920, she had become one of the brightest young stars in America and renowned artist Alberto Vargas painted another portrait of her, nude from the waist up. Florenz Ziegfeld hung the painting in his New Amsterdam Theatre office, much to the chagrin of his wife, actress Billie Burke. While doing film preparations mixed with a vacation in Paris, France, she and her husband went out for a night of entertainment at the famous bistros in the Montparnasse Quarter. Returning to their room in the Hotel Ritz at around 3:00 in the morning, an apparent drunken Olive Pickford accidentally ingested a large dose of mercury biochloride which had been prescribed for her husband's ongoing venereal disease. She was taken to the American Hospital in the Paris suburb of Neuilly, where her husband and former in-law Owen Moore stayed by her side until she succumbed to the poison a few days later. A police investigation followed and her death was ruled accidental.
Jack Pickford brought her body home to the United States and on the return trip, family friend and film director Allan Dwan had to talk him out of committing suicide. Olive Thomas' funeral service was held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in New York and she was interred in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York.
In 2004, with funding from Timeline Films and with the help of Hugh Hefner and his film preservation organization, Sarah J. Baker premiered her documentary on Olive Thomas' short life titled Olive Thomas: The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.
Olive Thomas Facts
|Birth Name||Oliveretta Elaine Duffy|
|Birthday||October 20, 1898|
|Birthplace||Charleroi, Pennsylvania, USA|
|Date of death||September 10, 1920 (age 21)|