Home   >   Movie Stars   >   P   >   Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford (April 8, 1892 - May 29, 1979) was a motion picture star, known as America's Sweetheart and the girl with the curl. She became one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood.

Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (for some reason, Pickford always claimed that her middle name was Marie). Her father, John Charles Smith, was a purser on a steamship who died in an on-board accident. Her mother, née Charlotte Hennessy, began taking in boarders, and through one of these lodgers Gladys, aged five, was cast in a local play, The Silver King, as Baby Gladys Smith. She subsequently played in many melodramas and became a popular child actress in Canada. Her mother took her to New York, looking for stardom, and she landed a leading role in a 1907 Broadway play, The Warrens of Virginia, produced by David Belasco (at whose insistence she assumed the stage name Mary Pickford), which was written by William C. DeMille, brother of Cecil B. DeMille, who was also in the cast. D. W. Griffith screen tested and hired her for a part in a one-reel thriller, The Lonely Villa in 1909. Pickford would go on to become Hollywood's biggest female star, the first female actor to receive more than a million dollars a year (the first male actor who made a million dollar deal was Charlie Chaplin), and one of the few stars who were successful in both the silent film era and the sound film era. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1929, but retired from films four years later, after a series of disappointing roles and the public's inability to accept Pickford in roles that reflected her own age, rather than teenage heroines.

She was married three times. She was first married to Owen Moore (1886-1939), an Irish-born silent-film actor, on January 7, 1911. They were divorced in March 1920. She next married Douglas Fairbanks Sr. (1883-1939), the action-adventure film star, on March 28, 1920. Together they were regarded as Hollywood Royalty and were famous for entertaining at their estate Pickfair. They divorced in January 1936. Her last husband was Charles Buddy Rogers (1904-1999), a fresh-faced actor known as America's Boy Friend and later a bandleader, whom she married in 1937; they had two adopted children, Roxanne and Ronald. Fairbanks, however, was the love of the actress's life, and upon hearing of his death, Pickford reportedly began to weep in front of her new husband, Rogers, saying My darling is gone.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Mary Pickford Facts

Birth NameGladys Marie Smith
OccupationActress, Producer, Writer
BirthdayApril 8, 1892
BirthplaceToronto, Ontario, Canada
Date of deathMay 29, 1979 (age 87)
Height5' 1" (1m55)  How tall is Mary Pickford compared to you?
Awards1976 Academy Awards: Honorary Award
1929 Academy Awards: Best Actress (for Coquette)

Selected Filmography

Rags & Riches Collection: The Films of Mary Pickford
Stella Maris
Romance of the Redwood, A
CHAPLIN RARITIES: Alternate Versions
Little Annie Rooney
The Love Light
Without Lying Down
Continue » Find more details on the Mary Pickford Movies page