National Tour to Showcase Silent Film Icon Mary Pickford

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“Adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo.” — Mary Pickford

Christel Schmidt, editor of Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies, will discuss silent movie icon Mary  Pickford’s career at free, public film-screening and book-signing events held January through May 2013 at more than 25 venues nationwide. Her presentations will include screenings of film shorts and full-length films starring Pickford, such as Sparrows (1926),  restored by the Library of Congress’ Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.
A complete tour schedule is available online.

Schmidt is a film historian, writer and editor. She was awarded two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her work on Mary Pickford and is co-editor of Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture.

A century ago, in the early days of cinema, when actors were unbilled and unmentioned in credits, audiences immediately noticed Mary Pickford. Dubbed "America’s Sweetheart."

Pickford charmed moviegoers for over two decades during the early 20th century with her magnetic talent and rose to become Hollywood’s first female movie mogul.

Mary Pickford: Queen of the MoviesPublished in December 2012 by the Library of Congress in association with the University of Kentucky Press, Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies sheds new light on this icon’s life and legacy. Through essays by Schmidt and other eminent film historians, Pickford emerges from the pages in vivid detail. She is revealed as a gifted actress, a philanthropist and a savvy industry leader who fought for creative control of her films and ultimately became her own producer. Her success paved the way for women in film and ushered in Hollywood’s golden age.

The book features more than 200 color and black-and-white illustrations, including photographs and posters from the Library’s collections and those of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Pickford (1892 –1979) was a Canadian-American motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Known as "America's Sweetheart," "Little Mary" and "The girl with the curls," she was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood and a significant figure in the development of film acting.

Because her international fame was triggered by moving images, she is a watershed figure in the history of modern celebrity and, as one of silent film's most important performers and producers, her contract demands were central to shaping the Hollywood industry. In consideration of her contributions to American cinema, the American Film Institute named Pickford 24th among the greatest female stars of all time.

Mary Pickford CenterPickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood, California

Pickford’s memory is honored in many ways. The Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study (pictured) at 1313 Vine Street in Hollywood, constructed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was  opened in 1948 as a radio and television studio facility.

There is a first-run movie theatre in Cathedral City, California called The Mary Pickford Theatre. The theater is a grand one with several screens and is built in the shape of a Spanish Cathedral, complete with bell tower and three-story lobby. The lobby contains a historic display with original artifacts belonging to Pickford and Buddy Rogers, her last husband. Among them are a rare and spectacular beaded gown she wore in the film Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall (1924) designed by Mitchell Leisen, her special Oscar, and a jewelry box.

A bust and historical plaque marks her birthplace in Toronto, now the site of the Hospital for Sick Children. The plaque was unveiled by her husband Buddy Rogers in 1973. The bust by artist Eino Gira was added ten years later.

The family home had been demolished in 1943, and many of the bricks delivered to Pickford in California. Proceeds from the sale of the property were donated by Pickford to build a bungalow in East York, Ontario, then a suburb of Toronto. The bungalow was the first prize in a lottery in Toronto to benefit war charities, and Pickford herself unveiled the home on May 26, 1943.

In 1993, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to her Pickford was featured on a Canadian postage stamp.

Mary PickfordThe Library of Congress holds the world’s largest collection of Mary Pickford films, including Pickford’s personal film collection, which she donated in 1946. Currently, the Library holds 156 Pickford titles out of the estimated 210 she made between 1909 and 1933. (Sadly, 36 films are considered lost.)

In addition to titles donated by Pickford, the Library has also acquired a number of the actress’s films through copyright deposits, movie collectors and repatriations from European archives. Rare collection items featuring Pickford include movie stills from The Foundling (1915) and Less Than the Dust (1916); photographs featuring her World War I efforts for the U.S. government and her involvement with the National Women’s Party; sheet music inspired by her between 1910 and 1930; movie posters and numerous magazine covers.

The Pickford Collection is stored, as well as restored, at the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va. Pickford’s 1924 feature film, Dorothy Vernon of Haddon and other film shorts will be screened at the state-of-the-art Packard Campus Theater on Jan. 25 and 26. Featuring remarks by Schmidt, the event is free and open to the public. For more information, go to

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 155 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at

The Library is home to more than 1.3 million film, television, and video items. With a collection ranging from motion pictures made in the 1890s to today’s TV programs, the Library’s holdings are an unparalleled record of American and international creativity in moving image.

Mary Pickford image gallery at the Library of Congress.

Mary Pickford Foundation has interviews, images and glass slides made to promote Pickford's films available online.

Mary Pickford Papers at the Margaret Herrick Library at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Visit your local library for these resources:

Mary Pickford : Rags & Riches collection DVD
Mary Pickford; Maurice Tourneur; Philip Carli; Sidney A Franklin; Bonnie Ruth Janofsky; All authors
3 disc set, released in 2012, features new high-resolution transfers of three of Pickford’s most popular features, The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), The Hoodlum (1919) and Sparrows (1926).

Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies
Christal Schmidt, (2012).

Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood
Eileen  Whitfield, (1997)

Mary Pickford Rediscovered : Rare Pictures of a Hollywood Legend
Kevin Brownlow; Robert Cushman 1999.
Best remembered as "America's Sweetheart," silent-film star Mary Pickford (1892-1979) was once the most famous woman in the world, a genuine American folk heroine adored by the masses for two decades. Yet today's audiences have little knowledge of the more than fifty feature films she made during her remarkable career, let alone her enormous behind-the-scenes power in early Hollywood.

Preserving Pickford: The Mary Pickford Collection and the Library of Congress article in The Moving Image, Volume 3, Number 1, Spring 20
e-book or online


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