Mary Pickford(April 8, 1892 – May 29, 1979) enjoyed a career that spanned five decades. A movie pioneer, she co-founded Pickford-Fairbanks Studios and United Artists. Furthermore, she was one of the thirty-six founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
During her career, Mary Pickford was known as “America’s Sweetheart”, “The Girl with the Curls”, and the “Queen of Movies”. One of the earliest stars to receive a billing under her own name, Mary enjoyed great popularity in the silent movie era of the 1910s and 1920s.
Mary Pickford defined the ingénue rolein motion pictures. She received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her first sound movie role as Norma Besant in Coquette, 1929. However, the arrival of the “talkies” signalled a decline in her career.
In 1909, Mary Pickford appeared in fifty-one films, most of them shorts. She starred in fifty-two features throughout her career. However, she didn’t adapt to the arrival of sound. She said of the “talkies” – “Adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo.”
Mary Pickford retired from movie acting in 1933. An astute businesswomen and producer throughout her career, she switched her focus to life behind the camera. A co-founder of United Artists, she finally sold her remaining shares in that company in 1956, for $3 million.
Mary Pickford married three times. First, to Owen Moore, a silent film actor, and an alcoholic. Second, and most famously, to Douglas Fairbanks. Their “marriage of the century” took place on March 28, 1920, after a secret relationship. Later, the couple were referred to as the “King and Queen of Hollywood”. And third to actor and band leader Charles “Buddy” Rogers, star of the highly acclaimed 1927 movie Wings.
After a glittering career, the lights dimmed on Mary Pickford later in life. Her divorce from Douglas Fairbanks and the end of the silent film era induced depression. Like her father before her, she turned to alcohol for comfort. Owning the rights to her early silent movies, Mary intended to burn them at her death but, thankfully, she donated them to the American Film Institute instead.
Clara Bow’s second movie was Down to the Sea in Ships, asilent romantic drama about a whaling family living in a Quaker community. The movie, made during the summer of 1922 when Clara was seventeen, was premiered on September 25, 1922 and went on general release from March 4, 1923.
Clara plays Dot Morgan who, as a baby, is found floating near the shore on a raft made of branches. Dot is a mischievous, rebellious child who wants to be a whaler when she grows up, an ambition frowned upon by her community. So, we have Clara as a tomboy rebel: perfect casting.
Dressed as a boy, Dot stows-away on a ship. She is attacked by a crew member, and rescued by her friend, Jimmie, a cabin boy. The ship returns to port and the main romantic thread of the story, which does not involve Clara, unfolds.
The movie contains authentic whaling scenes and strives for realism. The critics hated it, but audiences enjoyed it. Indeed, the movie played continuously for 22 weeks in New York City.
Billed 10th, Clara received praise for her role in the movie, her natural style contrasting with the mannered approach of the other actors. Billed 10th, Clara received praise for her role in the movie, her natural style contrasting with the mannered approach of the other actors.
The critics said: “Miss Bow will undoubtedly gain fame as a screen comedienne.” “She scored a tremendous hit in Down to the Sea in Ships … [and] has reached the front rank of motion picture principal players.” “With her beauty, her brains, her personality and her genuine acting ability it should not be many moons before she enjoys stardom in the fullest sense of the word. You must see ‘Down to the Sea in Ships’.”
The Adventures of Kathlyn, released on December 29, 1913 was a thirteen episode adventure serial, which starred Kathlyn Williams (pictured) as the heroine.
The second serial ever made, The Adventures of Kathlyn is widely regarded as the first of the cliffhanger serials that became popular over the next decade. The serial idea was ‘borrowed’ from newspapers and magazines, and adapted for film.
Chapter one of The Adventures of Kathlyn featured a situation ending, but future episodes concluded with a sensational action sequence or stunt, held over to the following week to heighten suspense.
These serials were often tied-in with newspaper serials, boosting the newspapers’ circulation figures. For example, the Tribune announced a 10% increase in circulation as a result of The Adventures of Kathlyn’s success.
November 1922. The Flapper. “Official Organ of the National Flappers’ Flock.” “Not for old fogies”. Learn how to edjimicate a Sweet Daddy. The Definition of a Kiss. Enter the Beauty Contest and win a golden dolphin. And so much more…
Life Magazine cover “The Flapper” by Frank Xavier Leyendecker, 2 February 1922.
Highest grossing movie of 1923:The Covered Wagon.
A silent western, The Covered Wagon charted the adventures of a group of pioneers as they travelled through the Old West, from Kansas to Oregon. Along the way they experienced desert heat, snow, hunger and an Indian attack (Native Americans who appeared in this movie included the Northern Arapaho Nation from Wyoming and Chief Thunderbird, in an uncredited role).
Lois Wilson, pictured, played the heroine, Molly Wingate. In a career spanning 1915 – 1952 she appeared in 150 movies, including the converted role of Daisy Buchanan in the 1926 silent film version of The Great Gatsby.
Through public records I’ve traced actress Eva Marie Saint’s ancestors back to the early 1800s. The family were Quakers for many generations. And, to my surprise, in 1810, their household contained a slave.
Slavery was abolished in America in 1865. But what of the Saint family and slavery in the period 1810 – 1865? The censuses of 1840, 1850 and 1860 provide an answer: William Saint, a farmer, was head of the household. His family, and labourers, worked on his farm. However, he did not own any slaves.
It would appear that the Saint family cut their ties with the slave trade long before the state did. I think Eva Marie Saint would be pleased to know that.
Also worthy of note, William Saint was born on 3 March 1781 and died on 24 January 1871. He enjoyed a long life. At the time of writing this, Eva Marie Saint is 98. The Saint genes appear to be very strong ones.
Say Goodbye to Jennifer, Series 1, Episode 18 of The Rockford Files was directed by Jackie Cooper, who featured as Captain Highland in the previous episode, Claire.
The titles in Say Goodbye to Jennifer didn’t appear until 4’ 30” into the episode, a common trait for The Rockford Files, depending upon the number of close-ups in the opening scenes.
This episode made good use of dental records in identifying a victim, in an unusual way. The story was written by John Thomas James, one of his best in the first series.
A classic telephone message too: “This is Mrs Landis. Three times this month I came to clean and it always looks like people’ve been fighting in there; furniture broken, things tipped over; I’m sorry, but I quit.”
Clara Bow Quotes: In January 1921 Clara entered the ‘Fame and Fortune Contest’ organised by Motion Picture Magazine…
“Imagine my surprise when a letter arrived one day stating that I had been declared the winner. According to the rules of the contest, the winner was to be given an evening dress and also a role in a motion picture. I was in seventh heaven. My prayers had been answered. My whole future and happiness had been secured. What luck!”
The picture Clara submitted for the Motion Picture contest. She hated the picture, but couldn’t afford a replacement.
Intertitle #3 😗
As ever, thank you for your interest and support.
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Very excited to announce that Paula has agreed to narrate Mind Games, Sam Smith Mystery Series book eleven, The Olive Tree: Roots and Eve’s War: Operation Zigzag. Production will begin this week and continue over the summer 🙂
The suitcase radio was a lifeline for SOE agents. However, it could also be a death trap because the Nazis could identify the source of a radio transmission in twenty minutes. Consequently, the life expectancy for wireless operators was only six weeks.
Yvonne Cormeau was the leading female SOE wireless operator. She sent more messages than any other female operator and her Morse code speed was a staggering twenty words a minute (the average was twelve words a minute).
As you can see, these radios were huge – an agent couldn’t hide them in a pocket, shoe or handbag. However, on at least two occasions cornered agents persuaded the Gestapo that their radios were X-ray equipment and filmmaking equipment. It was not necessary to possess a high IQ to be a member of the Gestapo.
The story of incredibly brave Norwegian SOE agents who wrecked the Nazi’s plans to acquire heavy water for the production of nuclear weapons. Includes interviews with the agents who took part in this daring raid.
My friend Sally invited me to a barbecue. She’s a terrible ditherer, she couldn’t decide what to eat…the meat, the salad or the sweet treats. While she was trying to decide, she sat down, mistaking the grill for a chair. Yep, you’ve guessed it, she walked away with hot cross buns.
Local views this week, the Bwlch, Pink Bay and Kenfig.
From the Daily Mirror, 8 May 1945, the VE edition.
Jane, created by Norman Pett, was a saucy comic strip that ran from 5 December 1932 until 10 October 1959. A recurring theme of the comic strip was the variety of ways Jane found to lose her clothes.
In 1944, when Jane first appeared nude in the comic strip, she was regarded as ‘Britain’s Secret Weapon’ and was credited with ‘inspiring’ the 36th Division to advance six miles into Burma.
Originally, Pett’s wife, Mary, modelled for him, but in the late 1930s she abandoned modelling for golf (!) From 1939 nude model Chrystabel Leighton-Porter became the inspiration for Jane, whose full name was Jane Gay.
I was shocked to discover that my cat was pregnant. I was double shocked to discover that she’d also eaten a ball of wool. But everything turned out all right. She gave birth to mittens.
Song of the week, “A street in Paris in the rain, I shoot in black and white a hundred frames, I watch your make-up, Begin to run.”
In Looking for Rosanna Mee, Sam Smith Mystery Series book seventeen, Sam likens her friend Faye to a 1920s ‘It Girl’.
The phrase ‘It Girl’ gained in popularity in 1927 after Paramount Studios released the film ‘It’, starring the notorious Clara Bow.
The earliest literary reference to ‘it’ in this context can be traced to 1904 and a Rudyard Kipling short story, which contained the line, “It isn’t beauty, so to speak, nor good talk necessarily. It’s just ‘It’.”
A new language for my books, Afrikaans. Nelmari has started the translation and we will publish in the near future.
Versions of my books are now available in Afrikaans, Bulgarian, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish 🙂
This week, I had an idea for a novel about a French schoolteacher and her involvement with the Resistance on D-Day. I’m outlining the basic plot and will add the story to my ‘to be written’ list.
I always start with a character’s name. For my D-Day novel, I liked the sound of Colette for the central character. And when research revealed that Colette means ‘people of victory’ the choice became obvious. Sometimes, some things are just meant to be.
Pearl Witherington’s story, as told by her official SOE file.
2 July 1943. Pearl impressed her instructors with her skills and personality. She struggled with the forward roll, but inspired confidence in others. Her reports were painstaking, an indication of her thorough and cautious character. Indeed, her financial accounts from the field were the most detailed the SOE had seen.
17 July 1943. Pearl received another outstanding report from her instructors. Amongst many highlights is the comment, “Probably the best shot (male or female) we have yet had.”
Over six days in August 1943, the SOE gave Pearl an ‘assignment’. As part of this ‘assignment’ as Pearl Wimsey she was to meet a contact, George Bluck. Unknown to Pearl, Bluck intended to trick her into revealing information through loose talk with a mutual acquaintance, Fifi. It’s alleged that Fifi used to seduce the male agents with the aim of extracting information. Clearly, the SOE took this training very seriously.
In the event, Bluck was late and Pearl, acting on her initiative, aborted the rendezvous. Instead, she went to the cinema where she viewed ‘Tarzan Triumphs’.
Pearl performed other aspects of her ‘mission’ with competence. However, overall for the SOE and Pearl the exercise proved unsatisfactory, although doubtless she learned from the experience, which was the main point. In her handwritten report, Pearl admitted that she found it difficult to talk with strangers and that she was ‘cautious’ and ‘slow’. A year later she was performing acts of bravery beyond the call of duty, so her self-effacing comments are extremely touching.