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Mary Pickford: Her Second Hundred Years in Film

Mary Pickford

By this time a century ago Mary Pickford entered the second year of her career with 100 pictures already under her belt. In the 10 years that followed she made over 100 more and co-founded United Artists along with D.W. Griffiths, Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks. She was granted full authority over any production she starred in and made a record-breaking $10,000 a week. She was the biggest female movie star in the world until sound hit cinema. “Adding sound to movies,” she said, “would be like putting lipstick on the Venus DeMilo.” But it wasn’t so much the shock of hearing the voice of audience’s beloved curly-haired coquette that ended her career; It was a haircut. A bob, to be exact. Her long ringlets had become something of a symbol of female virtue over the course of her career and chopping them off for the short, modern flapper style was just too much for audiences to take.

Before the bob she managed to star in some of silent cinemas most loved films, including SPARROWS (1926), which is considered one of the absolute best. It’s also the first film in the silent screening series that begins tomorrow at the New York Performing Arts Public Library. “Mary Pickford: Her Second Hundred Years in Film” is free every Tuesday in April with live piano accompaniment by Carolyn Swartz, Ben Model, Bernie Anderson and Andrew Simpson. See complete schedule.