Mary Pickford, born 127 years ago today, was known as America’s sweetheart. There was only one tiny fact that was overlooked in giving her that title, she wasnt American. She was actually born in Toronto, Canada, of parents of Irish, and English ancestry, and at that time, had no connection to America whatsoever.
But when Gladys Louise Smith arrived in New York in 1906, to work in theatre on Broadway, no one knew what history would hold. She had her first screen test in 1909 (before Los Angeles became the home of movies), and appeared in 51 films that year, mainly in small parts. 1910 saw her first movie making trip to Los Angeles, though it wasnt until 1916 that she found stardom there. In 1919 she was in at the creation of United Artists film studio, and a year later in one of the celebrity wedding of its day, married one of the other owners, Douglas Fairbanks. They stayed married until 1936. Shortly after that, she married Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers, who she stayed married to, for 42 years, until her passing.
Strictly, she did become an American citizen in 1920, when marrying Fairbanks. But previously, she was British, as Canadian citizenship only began in 1947, post independence from the Commonwealth. She did become a dual citizen (American/Canadian) before her death, so she could die as a Canadian, as she wished.
One of the amusing things is that in her mid 30’s, she still was playing child roles, care of her ringlets. Some of them were real, though wigs have certainly been found that she used too. In 1928, the fuss when she had her ringlets cut off, and replaced by a stylish bob, you dont want to imagine!
But yes, if later today, you see pieces in tribute to America’s sweetheart, just remember one thing, she was actually Canadian!
Mary Pickford, RIP.
The video. I thought this apt somehow. A Canadian group, singing about an American Woman, exactly!