Mary Pickford, born Gladys Marie Smith on April 8, 1892, was a Canadian-American actress and producer. She was a co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Regarded as one of the most influential figures in the early days of Hollywood, she was also known as "America's Sweetheart" and "the girl with the curls."
Early Life and Career: Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mary Pickford started her acting career on stage at the age of seven. To help support her family following her father’s death, she toured with theater productions. The family's financial situation led her to Broadway, where she caught the attention of film director D.W. Griffith, leading to her film debut in 1909.
Silent Film Stardom: Throughout the 1910s, Pickford became a major star in silent film, known for her roles as young girls or spirited young women in movies such as "Tess of the Storm Country" (1914) and "Poor Little Rich Girl" (1917). Her signature ringlet curls made her instantly recognizable. With her popularity, she exerted unprecedented control over her own films, often having a say in production, directing, and even editing.
Business Acumen: In 1919, she co-founded United Artists alongside Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and Douglas Fairbanks (who would later become her husband). This move allowed them more artistic control and a bigger profit share than working under the increasingly commercial studio system.
Academy Awards: Pickford received the second-ever Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in "Coquette" (1929). It was one of her first films with synchronized sound, and her transition to "talkies" proved to be successful initially.
Later Career and Legacy: However, with time, her box-office appeal waned, and she retired from acting in 1933. Pickford remained active as a producer and was involved in the business side of United Artists until she sold her shares in the 1950s. She authored her autobiography, "Sunshine and Shadow" (1955), which shed light on her life and the early film industry.
Personal Life: Mary Pickford was married three times, first to actor Owen Moore, then to Douglas Fairbanks, and finally to actor and band leader Charles 'Buddy' Rogers. With Fairbanks, she formed one half of the most celebrated couples of Hollywood's silent era. Their home, "Pickfair," was a famous meeting spot for celebrities.
Death and Recognition: Mary Pickford died on May 29, 1979, from a cerebral hemorrhage. Her legacy includes a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and she is remembered as a pioneer in the film industry not only as an actress but also as a businesswoman. Pickford has been depicted in various films, television shows, and books, underlining her enduring influence.
For more detailed information, you might consider visiting the official Mary Pickford Foundation website, marypickford.org, or consulting biographies such as "Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood" by Eileen Whitfield.