The Big Secret: Mary Pickford’s Fake Curls

The famous curls of silent screen megastar Mary Pickford were real–at least, most of them. The big secret? She also had 18 false curls that she could add to her own when hers got limp or she needed more volume. They were made of real hair and she paid $50 a piece for them–about $200-300 in today’s money, depending on the year she purchased them. 

Early in her career, Mary Pickford told her fans (honestly) that her hair was light brown, and that it had been blond as a child. But in the black and white films of the 1910s and 1920s, it photographed lighter and she was usually described as a blond. Often she was backlit, giving her a golden halo effect. At last she succumbed to her reputation and dyed her hair with peroxide to make it more blond. 

Her fans were horrified when she finally bobbed her hair in 1928. It made front page news all over the country, and of course, a feature in Photoplay:


Published in: on July 31, 2011 at 2:32 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very interesting! I don’t feel so bad for adding fake hair, then. And I think she looks great in her illustration with her hair bobbed. Finally looks like a woman.

  2. She confided in friends that she hated her curls. They were so babyish. But she was afraid to cut them until she was in her mid-thirties, because she understood that her persona was a feisty youngster, and she couldn’t continue that without curls. When she finally cut her hair, she cried, her husband cried, and she tried some roles that placed her in older parts. They didn’t go very well, and she faded away. So, in the end, I guess she was right about her curls. But as she hit her forties, she could not have done anything else.

  3. That’s fascinating. I didn’t know that about Pickford’s hair. I had seen several documentaries about her recently and they never mentioned the fake curls or real hair color. Love that cover of Photoplay!

  4. so giving my daughters shirley temple curls and big fat easter hats on easter. with bunnies and having a photographer come out and film/take picturers. cannot wait. oh yeah they’ll be in black and white plus color. i am SO inspired by the dreamy/ideal/fantasy nature of the black and white silent film era. everything is much like a dream. and seems like a fantasy from the 1700s or something. some by gone world. i am in love. thank you mary!

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