Mary Pickford–the World’s First Movie Star


     Since we’re already on the topic of Canada, it is worth mentioning that the world’s first movie star, Mary Pickford, was a Canadian.

     Mary was born in Toronto in 1892. Her alcoholic father died when she was very young; her mother was forced to allow Mary to take an acting job–something considered highly disreputable in those days–in order to feed the family. By the turn of the century, Mary and her younger brother and sister were touring America, playing third-rate theaters, staying only a step ahead of starvation.  Fast forward a few years and she has become the most recognizable woman in the world, known far and wide as “our Mary,” “Little Mary,” and “America’s Sweetheart.”

     I found this fascinating 2-part interview with Mary that was recorded in 1959. In the first part, she talks about growing up in Toronto. 

      In second part, she talks about her early career, her friend and business partner, Charlie Chaplin, her husband Douglas Fairbanks, and their 38-room house, known as Pickfair. 

     Since Mary Pickford figures in my Roaring Twenties mystery series, this interview has been a goldmine for details. I think you’ll enjoy listening to it! With her pretty voice, it isn’t surprising that she was one of the few silent screen actors who transitioned successfully to sound. She faded from the public’s eye as she grew older. Her last picture was made in 1933. She died in 1979.


Published in: on December 19, 2009 at 12:06 am  Leave a Comment  
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WAMPAS Baby Stars

WAMPAS Baby Stars 1934

Once upon a time, a sure-fire way for an aspiring screen actress to get noticed was to be named a WAMPAS Baby Star. Each year from 1922 until 1934, the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers chose thirteen young women whom they believed would be the screen’s next stars. The girls got lots of attention, party invitations, publicity, and small parts, and some did break into big time stardom. I found this photo at an antiques mall hanging on a pegboard wall in a shoddy frame and bought it for $10. It was taken in 1934, the last year of the promotion.

WAMPAS Baby Stars you might know include Clara Bow (the “It Girl”), Joan Crawford, Janet Gaynor, Loretta Young, Ginger Rogers (Fred Astaire’s dance partner), Sally Rand, and Fay Wray (of King Kong fame).  For a complete list, see