Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood

Overview

"A knockout of a biography." -- Newsweek A silent-film star. A woman who played children, wide-eyed and gamine, skipping about in frills and long curls. That's how most people remember Mary Pickford. In reality, Pickford was a towering figure in movie history, central to the evolution of film acting and the development of the Hollywood motion picture industry. Born in Toronto in 1892, Pickford began acting as a child. She switched from stage to film at seventeen, joining D.W. Griffith's Biograph Company, and became almost unimaginably popular.

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Overview

"A knockout of a biography." -- Newsweek A silent-film star. A woman who played children, wide-eyed and gamine, skipping about in frills and long curls. That's how most people remember Mary Pickford. In reality, Pickford was a towering figure in movie history, central to the evolution of film acting and the development of the Hollywood motion picture industry. Born in Toronto in 1892, Pickford began acting as a child. She switched from stage to film at seventeen, joining D.W. Griffith's Biograph Company, and became almost unimaginably popular. This allowed her to dictate the terms of her contracts -- power she seized and consolidated. She developed her own production company at Adolph Zukor's Famous Players, and in 1919 she co-founded United Artists (along with Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks), taking not only creative control but also direction of the marketing and distribution of her films. Eight years in the making, this definitive biography brings Pickford to life as a complex knot of contradictions and establishes her as a groundbreaking genius, casting new light on one of the most influential and least understood artists in the history of popular culture. Eileen Whitfield recreates Pickford's life in meticulously researched detail, from her trying days in turn-of-the-century Toronto through her reign as mistress of Pickfair, the legendary Beverly Hills estate at which she and Fairbanks entertained the world's elite, to her sadly moving demise. Along the way, Whitfield explores the intricate psychology that tied Pickford to her mother throughout her life and analyzes Pickford's brilliant innovations in the art of film acting, her profound influence on the movie business, and her role in the history of fame: once the best known woman in the world, she was the object of a mass adoration that prefigured today's cult of celebrity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

""Not only an illuminating, beautifully written, and finally deeply disturbing exploration of a profoundly unresolvable personality, but an engaging, informative, and richly detailed study as anyone has done on the early days of the movies." --Boston Phoenix" --

""Whitfield provides a thorough and interesting documentation of Mary Pickford's unique and essential contribution to the American film industry." --Film & History" --

""an excellent resource on the early film industry and Mary Pickford in particular, presenting her as a filmmaker and entrepreneur of amazing instincts." --Film & History" --

""Whitfield's writing strikes a nice balance between the personal and professional elements of Pickfords life." --Library Journal" --

""Will stand as the definitive biography." --Library Journal (starred review)" --

""Just as if a new wing had opened in a national museum or a lost symphony had been restored to the national repertory... Whitfield succeeds in giving us back a memory we thought we didn't want." --New Yorker" --

""A knockout of a biography." --Newsweek" --

""Whitfield creates a compelling portrait of a woman who was not only a far more inventive actress than history has recalled, but the first female movie mogul." --Past Times Newsletter" --

""A happy surprise -- smart and tough-minded, yet respectful." --Pauline Kael" --

""A poignant study of a woman reaching her peak early in life, and having to cope with loss of work, fame and family while still relatively young. She gives more of a feeling for the real woman behind the legend -- and the woman Pickford wanted the world to think she was." --Silents Majority" --

""A nuanced, three-dimensional portrait of a complex woman whose story is a fascinating case study of a seminal period in Hollywood." --Washington Post" --

""Whitfield's writing strikes a nice balance between the personal and professional elements of Pickford's life." --Library Journal" --

From The Critics
Mary Pickford was a key figure in American cinematic history. She became the first major silent-film actress and went on to become the first major female film executive as one of the founders of Untied Artists. Popular known in her acting heyday as "America's sweetheart", she enchanted moviegoers with her portraits of golden-haired princesses as well as her moving portrayals of sad-eyed waifs. Eileen Whitfield's Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood recreates Pickford's personal and professional life in vivid detail from her poverty-stricken childhood in turn-of-the-century Toronto, through her undisputed reign as mistress of Pickfair (the Beverly Hills estate where she and her actor husband Douglas Fairbanks entertained in the 1920s), to her sadly moving demise in 1979. Pickford is "must" reading for all Mary Pickford fans and students of the American cinema.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813191799
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 8/1/2007
  • Pages: 488
  • Sales rank: 845,426
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.09 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2010

    GREAT BOOK FOR SILENT MOVIE FANS!

    I found this book interesting and informative. If you like the old movies this gives you a glimpse into life during the silent film era. The author gives a unbiased account of the life of one of films earliest stars and an icon that is unfortuantely underappreciated today. The only complaint I have with the book is that during the first reading the pages with photographs fell out.

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