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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Dubbed "the first movie star" byTime magazine, Mary Pickford (1892-1979) made over 200 films during her career, which spanned the years between 1909 and 1934. She starred in films such as Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), A Little Princess (1917), Pollyanna (1920), and Tess of the Storm Country (1922).
Mary Pickford was born Gladys Marie Smith in 1892 in Toronto, Canada. She found fame in her late teens in New York City making films for the Biograph film company. Her 5-foot tall frame and delicate beauty earned her several ingenue roles and the nickname "America's Sweetheart." She commanded high pay for her roles, supervised most aspects of her films' production, successfully marketed herself, and was socially active during World War I, taking part in campaigns promoting the sale of Liberty Bonds. In 1919 she joined forces with Charlie Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, and Douglas Fairbanks in co-founding the film distribution company United Artists Corporation. The company freed actors from relying on the large studios for contracts and enabled them to enjoy the full profits and creative control of their films.
Pickford married Fairbanks in 1920, and the couple lived together in their Beverly Hills mansion called "Pickfair." Pickford's acting career began to decline in the late 1920s. Her final starring role was in the 1933 filmSecrets. Pickford and Fairbanks divorced in 1936, and she married actor Buddy Rogers, to whom she remained wed until her death in 1979.
Corliss, Richard. "The First Movie Star: A Pickford Revival in Books and Videos Proves There's Still Something About Mary."Time, June 28, 1999."Mary Pickford." American Decades, December 16, 1998. Gale Biography in Context. http://galenet.galegroup.com (accessed February 2013).
This collection of American actress Mary Pickford photographs and publicity stills contains 40 photographs and two glass slides. The photographs and slides provide insight into production, distribution, and publicity during Hollywood's era of silent films.
Many of the photographs are marked for cropping and compositing for promotional use. The verso of many of the photographs are marked with pencil, typed text, or stamps, providing credits for studios such as Artcraft Pictures and photographers such as Charles Rosher (1885-1974) and K. O. Rahmn (1885-1974). The typed text on the back of one undated photograph indicates that all of Pickford's fashions were custom-made for the actress by French designer Jeanne-Marie Lanvin (1867-1946). Other notable figures associated with the films, such as directors Marshall Neilan (1891-1958) and Maurice Tourneur (1876-1961), appear in some of the photographs. Aspects of the productions themselves, such as camera angles, lighting, and even a stunt performed by Pickford herself inRebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), can be seen in several of the photographs.
The collection also includes two 3.25" x 4" glass slides which contain promotional images for two films,M'Liss (1918) and Pollyanna (1920). Slides such as these were projected in theaters before, and often between the reels of, showings of other films, announcing that the film promoted on the slide would also be shown at upcoming times. There is a blank space on each slide into which the intended show date and time would be handwritten.
- Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes
Gift of Paul Preston Davis, October 2011.
Processed and encoded by Elyse Brown, February 2013.
This collection was originally processed and cataloged with the call number PPI 0104.
- Lanvin, Jeanne, 1867-1946
- Neilan, Marshall A., 1891-1958
- Pickford, Mary, 1892-1979
- Tourneur, Maurice, 1876-1961
- Rahmn, Knut Olaf, 1876-1957
- Rosher, Charles, 1885-1974
- Motion picture actors and actresses--United States--History--20th century
- Motion picture industry--United States--History--20th century
- Motion picture industry--United States--Marketing
- Silent films--United States--History
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2013 February 15
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library, https://library.udel.edu/static/purl.php?askspec
Six undated publicity photographs. Some feature Pickford with gifts from fans. The verso of one photograph discusses Pickford's personal fashion designer, "Madame Lanvin."
One photograph and one collage of "gag stills" featuring Pickford and the film's director, Marshall Neilan, joking between takes.
Two photographs; both include director Maurice Tourneur.
Text on verso indicates it is a still from an all-star liberty bond film campaign.
One photograph, list of production studios written on verso.
One production still, one publicity photograph of Pickford visiting a group of orphans.
Six photographs; one photograph marked "United Artists Corporation" on verso; Pickford co-founded United Artists in 1919.
Stamp of photographer Charles Rosher on verso.
Two photographs, stamp of "K. O. Rahmn: Photographer, Mary Pickford Corp." on verso of each.
Two photographs from Pickford's final film, one with stamp of K. O. Rahmn on verso.
These slides are for Pickford'sPollyanna (1920) and M'Liss (1918).