Hollywood Renegade & Founding Member of The Society of Independent Motion
Pickford. Portrait taken from a French postcard advertisement for
United Artists. (Aberdeen collection).
To purchase Aberdeen photos for reprint purposes click
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.
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."
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
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
In 1941, she became a founding member of the Society of Independent Motion
"The best known woman": Interview with Rogers St.
Johns in the Kevin Brownlow documentary film, Hollywood (1980).