Who were the movie stars of silent cinema in 1912


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Because Mary Pickford could be full of it sometimes. Of course I admire her pluck. She was a real go getter. I have recently read Eileen Whitfield's Mary Pickford-The Woman Who Made Hollywood. It was alright. She helped found United Artists. But Jim's right she could twist her facts a bit. Did they interview Lillian Gish. now there's a Lady and Actor. I saw the 1927 silent classic The Wind on TNT and that movie got me interested in old Hollywood Land. In 1912 Lillian and Dorothy Gish were just getting started.
 
Thanks Jim for telling me about the book The Parade's Gone By, (Kenneth Brownlow). Ive read a another of his works on Silent Cinema in Junior High School. Your right I need to get my hands on that book. I also need to get a copy of a New York Hat (1912) with Lionel Barrymore and Mary Pickford with the scenario (Screenplay) by Anita Loos. I need to do a lot of things. Off to the Library yet again.
 
>I also need to get a copy of a New York Hat (1912)

Skip it. The only Pickford film worth owning is Rosita- the one she hated and tried to obliterate. She worked with a director on that film who would not be intimidated, and who forced her to actually ACT rather than resort to her usual routine. The film turned out to be her best onscreen moment, but she hated it because, of course, as a classic control freak she could not admit for a second that a project that did not bear her finger prints on every last surface could possibly be any good. Nor could she tolerate the thought that a director could possibly coax a better performance out of her than the ones she was accustomed to giving. SO, when she put up the money to restore her entire film archive, the archivists were told, flat out: Let Rosita rot. If you restore it, you will be sued. So, her archival print, thought to be the only one in existence, turned to sludge in the cans. BUT, then a second print turned up in Russia and I believe a third popped up a while back as well.

For me her career highlight came in 1937 when she did a radio appearance bombed, (as was her wont, on a daily basis, after 1933) that culminated with her shouting "Viva Mussolini! Viva Fascism!"

Can you guess of which classic silent movie star I am far from fond?
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I knew she hated Rosita. She ended up hating all her films in the end because she thought they were all old fashioned. She whined about everyone thinking she was a child in all her films but she had no one to blame but herself. When she first started with Griffith she played Indians, Prostitutes and Mothers as well as Teenagers and Children. She let her films deteriorate to nothing till what she had left was only Pollyanna and all that goody good two shoes little girlie stuff. Back then it sold because people considered childhood scared. Rosita is a film I would like to see myself were she played a street singer. The New York Hat I would like to see because it is a filmed in 1912 and I could see what other people are wearing and also all the other people connected to it. Like Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blonds). That was her first screenplay. Actually I always wanted to give Sparrows a try. Your right Jim in that Mary Pickford was a classic control freak, but she helped start United artist and also was a good business woman. Actually Ernst Lubitsch wanted to do Faust with Pickford as Marguerite. Now Marguerite in Faust strangles her illegitimate child so Mary Pickford backed out because she felt she would alienate her fans. That's the business woman in her talking. Miss Pickford was born dirt poor and she wasn't gonna ever be poor again. She achieved her goal at the price of her artistry. I'm done defending Pickford. Frankly I always wished she was more like her childhood friend Lillian Gish. Now there's an Actress.
 
The relationship between Mary and her mother was fairly interesting. As long as Charlotte was alive, Mary the 'driven' business woman and actress existed. After Charlotte died, Mary the aimless drunk soon surfaced.

Are you familiar with how Lillian Gish spent decades trying to induce Mary to quit laying around all day drinking herself incoherent and return to acting? She'd point out that Dorothy Gish, while dying of lung cancer, insisted on doing stage performances until she was physically incapable of doing so and that Mary was basically wasting her life and health- but it was to no avail. I do recall on one occasion that she, Mary, was supposed to speak in Canada but showed up incoherent and ended up, among other things, sharing a recipe for brownies with the audience.

>Miss Pickford was born dirt poor and she wasn't gonna ever be poor again. She achieved her goal at the price of her artistry.

Actually, the Pickfords were propelled downward into poverty when Mr. Pickford abandoned the family. Charlotte was the one with the drive to succeed. So, she ended up with her only son a pre-teen drug user and visitor-of-prostitutes, her other daughter, Lottie, a pre-teen alcoholic, and the child upon whom she pinned all of her hopes and focused all of her attention the biggest film star in the world. Lottie Pickford, a minor film star, existed only to keep Mary in line. If Mary showed any sign of independent thought, her mother would take away the part she was playing and give it to Lottie. Once Mary "toed the line" the part would be taken away from Lottie and given back to Mary. The end result was two emotional train-wrecks, one of whom died a young alcoholic and one of whom died an old alcoholic. Once Charlotte was gone, Mary's complete inability to function became painfully evident. Her choice of films became a bit odd, and after two failures in a row she threw in the towel and devoted her considerably energies and free time to her true forte- consuming entire bottles of alcohol before noon on a daily basis. For the sake of brevity, we'll ignore what she did to her children Roxanne and Ronnie, whom she adopted. She was, at that point, too old to have children naturally, and could not have done so anyway ~ having been left sterile by the abortion Charlotte brow beat her into getting circa 1916.
 
There was also 1913 abortion described as a appendix removal. Even though she was married to Owen Moore at the time. A baby would have ruined her career. Charlotte was pretty driven at that. The studio executives hated the sight of her especially Goldwyn(or Goldfish) as he was called before he changed his name. Lillian Gish did try to get Mary working again but your right Jim, Mary Pickford buried her ambition with her mother. You think Pickford had mother issues just look at Mary Miles Minter and her mother Charlotte Shelby. Momma Shelby was insane and vicious as well. She was the prime suspect in the 1922 William Desmond Taylor Murder. In 1937 she tried to have her oldest daughter Margaret committed to a mental hospital because Margaret Shelby was hinting to the D.A. that she knew who killed Taylor. Momma Shelby's daughters ended up far worst then Mary Pickford and her siblings.
 
Jim Kalfus said: "Actually, the Pickfords were propelled downward into poverty when Mr. Pickford abandoned the family. Charlotte was the one with the drive to succeed."

Actually there was no "Mr. Pickford" Charlotte Hennesey Smith's husband was John Charles Smith, and he's buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto. [Charlotte's parents are buried in St. Michael's Roman Catholic Cemetery, just down Yonge St. from St. Clair Ave. by the way.]
There was some speculation as to whether Mr. Smith died of complications of drunkenness, or if he died from a blow to the head while he was selling fruit and candy on one of the steamers that used to run Lake Ontario between Toronto and either Rochester, NY or Port Dalhousie, Ont. [Or booze perhaps. I don't know. The Pickford story says 'fruit' but Mr. Smith did have the odd bartending jobs, so he may have been dispensing and drinking on the boats. He was known for drunkenness. So was Charlotte known to nip.] He was apparently buried by his lodge, because his family could not pay the cost themselves.
I don't know if he did 'abandon' the family before his death, or go and come back. Mary did sugar-coat her past in her book 'Sunshine and Shadow'.
 
Mary - or rather Gladys Smith, Mary's original name - was born and lived in 'The Ward' until she and her family took up the theatrical touring. Considering some pictures I've seen of that slum area, Charlotte was not doing too bad renting a whole brick house to take in boarders. Some of those shacks look like fence boards tied together with binder twine. I don't know how many boarders Charlotte had, or how many she housed per room, but the Library has a picture of twelve men in one tiny room, sleeping on cots or straw ticks on the floor.
 
I will have to check my book source, but I seem to recall that Mary Pickford was one of many performers who died "in obscurity", away from all the publicity and attention they knew in earlier years, either because of health reasons (like those which befell Martha Raye) or their audiences moved on and no longer preferred them.

For many years after Mary Pickford's death her Hollywood Hills home, Pickfair, was something to see, especially when Jerry Buss, the owner of the Lakers, owned it for a brief time.
Now the home is gone, as Pia Zadora and her husband chose to put up a modern home, instead.

My book source is "The Hollywood Book of Death"; will have to look up the stories when I get home.
 
I'm curious if the Marx Brothers or the 3 Stooges were doing their respective stage acts by the time Titanic sank- Both bands of brothers were stage vaudvillians for years before they found the silver screen...

I would love to have seen the great Margaret Dumont on stage or in the silent cinema in 1912-
Apparently in her youth, she was quite the sex symbol. I wonder if she always played the straight man role? I have a hunch she had repressed comedic abilities...
Poor Margaret, she was the recipient of some of Groucho's greatest insults....


Margaret Dumont- "When i was a girl, my mother warned me about men like you"

Groucho- "Now there's no reason to bring the Civil War into this!"
 
Hello Marilyn and John,

He left them and was living at another address. He might of gone back to Charlotte when he dying.
I think the Smiths were actually borders instead of the ones who rented the rooms. At least that's what Eileen Whitfield says in her biography of Pickford aka Baby Gladys Smith. There was a lot of sugar coating of Mary's past. All Hollywood stars sugarcoated their past. They still do. It was sad to see Pickfair go John. At one time it was called the second White house of America. Mary also never donated her costumes from all her silent films so when they were sold at auction people took the costumes home and washed them. Unfortunately it made the cloths fall apart. Hollywood has no respect for its past. Here today gone tomorrow is the rule in Hollywood Land.
 
The Marx Brothers (with various other family members) first performed as a singing troupe, but by 1912 their act had evolved into comedy with musical touches, much as we all remember it. The Stooges were just kids at that time; their stage act began in the mid-1920s.
 
Bob, have you seen any of Margaret Dumont's early films? I'm curious if she was the sex symbol that some accounts paint her as being....

Recently I watched a 3 Stooges short- to my shock, Lucille Ball appeared in an episode..

it's hard to imagine Lucy in any role prior to 'I Love lucy"
 
I can't see any evidence of Margaret Dumont on film before 1917, by which time she was no spring chicken. Her screen roles were only occasional (and uncredited) before her first encounter with Groucho 12 years later. But I note that in 1923 she'd retained sufficient allure to be cast as a 'French beauty' (aged 41!)
 
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