Mary Pickford was the beloved silent movie star known as America's Sweetheart.
She was born Gladys Louise Smith on April 8, 1892, in Toronto, Canada. After her father's death Mary, her brother Jack, and her sister Lottie began acting in the theater to support the family. D.W. Griffith discovered her and signed her to a contract at Biograph Studios for $40 a week. In 1909 she appeared in fifty-one films! Since she was just five feet tall and had long curly hair she was often cast as a child. Her first starring roles was in the 1909 drama The Violin Maker Of Cremona. Mary married he costar Owen Moore in 1911. Unfortunately he was an alcoholic and she left him when he became abusive. She starred in a string of hit movies including Caprice, Hearts, Adrift, and Tess Of The Storm Country. By 1916 she was the highest paid actress in Hollywood earning more than $10,000 a week. Mary was nicknamed "America's Sweetheart". She married actor Douglas Fairbanks in March of 1920. Later that year her sister-in-law, actress Olive Thomas, tragically died under mysterious circumstances. She and Douglas became one America's most beloved couples and they lived in a lavish Beverly Hills mansion called "Pickfair". They formed United Artists Studio with Charlie Chaplin and D.W. Griffith and began producing their own films. She was also a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Her success continued throughout the 1920s with the box-office hits Pollyanna and Rosita.
In 1929 she starred in Coquette, her first sound film, and won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Tired of making movies she decided to retire from acting. Her final film was the 1933 drama Secrets. Sadly her marriage to Douglas come to an end in the early 1930s when he fell in love with another woman. By 1936 her brother Jack and her sister Lottie had died from alcohol related illnesses. Mary began suffering from depression and developed a serious drinking problem. She married actor Charles "Buddy" Rogers (who was rumored to be gay) on June 26, 1937. Unfortunately she was unable to have children due to a botched abortion during her first marriage. She and Buddy adopted a son named Ronald in 1943 and a daughter named Roxanne in 1944. Her children later claimed she was a distant mother. Mary devoted most of her time to doing charity work and published her autobiography, Sunshine And Shadow. In 1950 she was offered the role of Norma Desmond in the drama Sunset Boulevard but turned it down. As she grew older she became very reclusive and rarely left her home. She didn't like watching her films and considered having them burned when she died. At the 1976 Academy Awards she was presented with an honorary Oscar. On May 29, 1979 Mary died from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of eighty-seven. She was cremated and her ashes are buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.