With the Oscars approaching more and more quickly, it’s easy to forget about how much film has evolved over the past century. What used to not even exist in film is now arguably the most important aspect of it. What sets a fantastic film apart from its competitors is often the dialogue and writing, not the special effects.
In the early days of cinema, when actors were unbilled and films were silent, audiences immediately noticed Mary Pickford. Moviegoers everywhere were riveted by her talent as she rose to become cinema’s first great star.
During a time when women weren’t known for their careers, Pickford became a pioneer in the film industry as both an actor and a producer. She co-founded the film studio United Artists with fellow film greats Charlie Chaplin, D.W. Griffith, and Douglas Fairbanks. The studio continues to be a major success today, with blockbuster actors like Tom Cruise as clients.
Labeled one of the American Film Institute’s (AFI) 50 Greatest American Female Screen Legends, Pickford’s contributions to film have been heavily researched and treasured.
“Their First Misunderstanding”, a 1911 film starring Pickford, has recently been found and restored thanks to a curious carpenter digging through an old New Hampshire barn. Christel Schmidt, an eminent Mary Pickford scholar and editor of UPK’s book, Mary Pickford: Queen of Movies, discusses the significance of this finding with Public Radio Exchange (PRX) at this link.
Pickford was one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, most often known for that small show they put on once a year called the Oscars.
So it’s thanks in part to her that we get to cheer on our favorite actors and films and watch their hilarious reactions to losing awards.
Celebrate Mary’s achievements and contributions to film by going to our website and ordering Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies. This beautifully designed volume features more than two hundred color and black and white illustrations, including photographs and stills from the collections of the Library of Congress and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Together with the text, they paint a fascinating portrait of a key figure in American cinematic history.
Also, be sure to check out some of our other books in the Screen Classics series on our website. Other notable Oscar faces like Victor Fleming, Jack Nicholson, and Maureen O’Hara have been featured in this series.
Continue the tradition started by Mary and her colleagues by watching the Academy Awards on March 2nd.