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Alfred Cheney Johnston, 08 Apr 1885 - 17 Apr 1971
Mary Pickford, 8 Apr 1892 - 29 May 1979
Gelatin silver print
Image: 32.4 x 25.2 cm (12 3/4 x 9 15/16")
Sheet: 36 x 28 cm (14 3/16 x 11")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Francis A. DiMauro
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Born Toronto, Ontario
A ship steward’s daughter who toured with roving theatrical companies as a young girl to help save her family from poverty, Mary Pickford rose to stardom in the first decades of the twentieth century to become one of American cinema’s earliest stars. Admired as the epitome of feminine innocence, her childlike charm in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917) and Stella Maris (1918) cemented the little-girl persona that earned her the affectionate title "America’s Sweetheart." In 1919, in an effort to control the creation, dissemination, and promotion of her pictures, she joined director D. W. Griffith and actors Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin in founding the independent film distribution company United Artists. Pickford’s deep involvement in the business affairs of the company, even after she retired from her professional acting career, strengthened her legacy as one of the most important figures in the early motion-picture industry.