Mary Pickford, the very first film star, was born in 1892 just as the medium was in its infancy. She was the most popular and durable of her peers. This biography is the first to examine all facets of Pickford's life--from her rise to prominence simultaneously with the growth of the film industry, through her reign as Hollywood's royalty, to her ...
Mary Pickford, the very first film star, was born in 1892 just as the medium was in its infancy. She was the most popular and durable of her peers. This biography is the first to examine all facets of Pickford's life--from her rise to prominence simultaneously with the growth of the film industry, through her reign as Hollywood's royalty, to her last years as a recluse, struggling with alcohol. 60 b&w illustrations.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-07-14 In a 1925 interview with Photoplay magazine, Mary Pickford (1892-1979) asked her millions of fans to submit ideas for her next film. She got 20,000 responses, all requesting the type of child's roles (Anne of Green Gables, Heidi) Pickford wanted to escape. Biographer Whitfield quotes the magazine to explain that her fans simply wanted " `confirmation of the belief that the sweet, wholesome things in life are worth while.' " This remark turns out to be a perfect, if unintentional, explanation for the success of the escapist movies Pickford offered. Whether or not she portrayed a child, her films retouched reality to affirm the values cherished, though not always practiced, by Pickford's generation. If this emphasis on wholesome innocence left a largely unremarkable body of work, Whitfield's well-written, enjoyable biography underlines Pickford's interest as an actor, and as a canny businesswoman. Though Scott Eyman's 1990 Pickford biography relies more on original interviews, Whitfield more effectively synthesizes authoritative background passages (on Belasco-era theater, the origins of film, the growth of Hollywood, the influence of sound, etc.), which inform as insightfully as her ongoing discussion of Pickford's life and career. Her career eventually dictated her life: Pickford's decade-long reign with Douglas Fairbanks, her second husband, as Hollywood royalty, ended when sound changed popular tastes. Her last screen role in 1933 was followed by the long anticlimax of her final alcoholic decades untilŠwhen her body, mind and many of her films had disintegratedŠAmerica's sweetheart died. Sixty b&w photos, not seen by PW. (Sept.)
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