10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford

Even if you’re not a silent movie buff you’ve probably heard of ‘America’s SweetheartMary Pickford. Here are some interesting facts you might not have known about the famous Blondilocks:

  1. She co-founded the movie studio United Artists with Charlie Chaplin, husband Douglas Fairbanks Sr and D.W. Griffith in response to the restrictive and controlling ‘Star System’ used by the 5 major movie studios at the time. It offered the actors a chance to have control over their own careers for the first time.
  2. Pickford was a prolific actress, believing that the more times she appeared on screen the faster she would become a star.  In 1909 she appeared in an astonishing 51 movies. Silent films tended to be shorter than feature films now, but that was almost 1 a week!
  3. The mansion she lived in with 2nd husband Douglas Fairbanks was called Pickfair (a combination of Pickford and Fairbanks) and they would often throw lavish Hollywood parties there.
  4. The American Film Institute named her as the 24th greatest female stars of all time. You can see the full list here.
  5. She started acting very young and traveled across America with her mother and 2 siblings performing in low-budget local productions.
  6. Aged 7 she landed role in a Broadway play and following advice changed her name from Gladys Smith to Mary Pickford.
  7. Pickford and Charlie Chaplin were by far cinemas biggest stars during the 1910s
  8. When she moved to Zukor studios in 1916 she was paid a record-breaking $10,000 a week.
  9. Pickford’s career went into decline because she underestimated the appeal of talkies and famously said: “adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo”, because of this United Artists were late in adopting talking movies and the stars’ popularity suffered.
  10. There was public outrage when she cut famously ringleted hair (which was seen to symbolize innocence and purity in an age where morals were slipping) into a fashionable bob in 1928.
Mary Pickford with a short bob

Mary Pickford with he hair bobbed short for the 1929 movie Coquette

Mary Pickford

Pickford photographed by Alfred Cheney Johnston in 1920

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford with 2nd husband Douglas Fairbanks photographed in the early 1920s

Mary Pickford in Kiki (1931), a film by Sam Taylor

Mary Pickford in Kiki (1931), a film by Sam Taylor. Isn’t this outfit amazing?

Mary Pickford

Image source and copyright:  2, 3, 4, 5, This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923.

1, This is a press photograph from the George Grantham Bain collection, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 1948. According to the library, there are no known restrictions on the use of these photos.

6, This work is in the public domain in that it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1977 and without a copyright notice.

6 thoughts on “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Mary Pickford

  1. Leola Bishop

    It has been written that a chef, somewhere in Europe, I believe, made an Alfredo Fettuccini dish for Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Do you have that recipe, Please. It was published in a popular cooking magazine about thirty years ago. I used to make that dish, but lost the recipe. If you have it, could you please send it to me at leolamarie@yahoo.com. Thank you so very much. Leola

  2. GLB

    Some historians of hairstyles state Mary Pickford was, lf all stars, the last ‘holdout’ against ‘the’ bob fad. She is quoted as saying till 1928 or perhaps 1929 that she would not have her nape clipped (that being the most important aspect of the bob, c.1915 –). She had thus discouraged women to some extent from invading barbers’ shops, hitherto a men’s realm.


    Thank you for the amazing pictures and interesting facts about Mary Pickford. I am writing my dissertation on the scarcity of venues for live performers. To find out if that is true, the study will have a section on leadership of women in creative and performing arts. I intend to cite your article because Ms. Pickford was a co-founder of UA! Did not know that. Also, I would like to try that recipe, too. If you have access to it, please email it to me: profscott1@gmail.com. Keep up the good works. I want to read more of your helpful contributions!

  4. Ellen Carter

    I just finished reading ” The Girls in the Movies” and loved it. Can’t wait to learn more about Mary Pickford.


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