Hollywood Renegades Archive

The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers

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Mary Pickford

Hollywood Renegade  &  Founding Member of The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers

Mary Pickford. Portrait taken from a French postcard advertisement for United Artists. (Aberdeen collection). To purchase Aberdeen photos for reprint purposes click here.

Mary Pickford became famous portraying naive, childish characters on screen. In contrast—her real-life persona was a mixture of mature acting ability, razor-sharp filmmaking, and astute business acumen, the combination of which seemed almost other-worldly.

By the time she entered movies, working at age seventeen for D. W. Griffith, she was already a stage veteran with nearly a decade of experience. Later she became the most famous performer in Adolph Zukor's Famous Players company. Her popularity helped establish Paramount as the foremost studio. And though she was not the first female performer to achieve star status, Pickford was arguably the movies' first superstar. The journalist and Hollywood columnist Adela Rogers St. Johns described Pickford as "the best known woman who has ever lived, the woman who was known to more people and loved by more people than any other woman that has been in all history."

Mary Pickford postcard c. 1918, shortly after she signed her monumental contract with First National to become an independent producer. (Aberdeen collection). To purchase Aberdeen photos for reprint purposes click here.

Mary Pickford used her screen-idol reputation to become her own producer, and ultimately her own company boss with the formation of United Artists. Pickford dumbfounded her associates with her business astuteness, paving the way as Hollywood's first female movie mogul. She used the independent film movement to secure her position in the industry, and remained a life-long advocate for independent production.

In 1941, she became a founding member of the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers.




"The best known woman": Interview with Rogers St. Johns in the Kevin Brownlow documentary film, Hollywood (1980).

See Bibliography.


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