Mary Pickford was an Oscar-
The American Film Institute named Pickford 24th among the greatest female stars of all time.
Mary Pickford was born Gladys Louise Smith in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her father, John Charles Smith, was the son of British Methodist immigrants, and worked a variety of odd jobs. Her mother, Charlotte Hennessy, was from an Irish Catholic family. She had two younger siblings, Jack and Lottie Pickford, who would also become actors.
By late 1900, acting had become a family enterprise, as Pickford, her mother and two younger siblings toured the United States by rail in third-
On April 19, 1909, the Biograph Company director D. W. Griffith screen-
In January 1910 she traveled with a Biograph crew to Los Angeles. Many other companies wintered on the West Coast, escaping the weak light and short days that hampered winter shooting in the East. Pickford added to her 1909 Biographs with films from California. Like the other players in Griffith's company, her name was not listed in the credits, but Pickford had been noticed by audiences within weeks of her first film appearance. In turn, exhibitors capitalized on her popularity by advertising on sandwich boards outside their nickelodeons that a film featuring "The Girl with the Golden Curls," "Blondilocks" or "The Biograph Girl" was inside. Pickford left Biograph in December 1910, and spent 1911 with the Independent Motion Picture Company (later Universal Studios) and Majestic. Unhappy with their creative standards, she returned to work with Griffith in 1912. She made her last Biograph, The New York Hat, then starred on Broadway in the David Belasco production of A Good Little Devil. The experience was the major turning point in her career; Pickford, who had always hoped to conquer the Broadway stage, discovered she missed movie acting. In 1913 she decided to turn her energies exclusively toward film. In the same year, Adolph Zukor formed Famous Players in Famous Plays (later Paramount), one of the first American feature film companies. Pickford left the stage to join his roster of stars. She instantly attracted a following, appearing in such comedy-
Pickford earned the right not only to act in her own movies, but to produce them and (through the creation of United Artists) control their distribution. She was also the first actress to receive more than a million dollars per year. Pickford starred in 52 features.