Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford: Hollywood Royalty In The 1920s

February 6, 2022

Mary Pickford got her start in theater, and appeared in her first film, Her First Biscuits, in 1909. A versatile actress, she appeared in 51 films in 1909 alone and eventually became known as “America’s Sweetheart.” She also met her first husband, Owen Moore, that year; they married in 1911.

Source: (Tumblr/colorized).

Douglas Fairbanks also got his start acting in theater. He met his first wife, Anna Beth Sully in 1906. In 1915, he moved to Los Angeles and starred in his first film, The Lamb (1915). That same year, Pickford met Fairbanks at a party at the home of Elsie Janis in Tarrytown, New York, and the two became friends. When their romance began, they had to keep it secret as they were both married, and so they wrote letters to each other. They also had to disguise themselves to hide from the press.

Traveling To Promote Liberty Bonds

Fairbanks, Pickford, Chaplin, and D.W. Griffiths. Source: (Wikipedia/colorized).

In April 1918, they were chosen to travel across America to promote Liberty Bonds during World War I. As they traveled around the country with Marie Dressler and Charlie Chaplin, they sold $18 million in bonds. A few months after their tour, in October, Fairbanks’ wife filed for divorce. Pickford and Fairbanks’ affair continued, as did their professional alliance, when, in 1919, Pickford and Fairbanks, along with Chaplin and D.W. Griffith formed United Artists. This allowed them to be free from dependence on other studios and to distribute their films. Pickford also formed The Mary Pickford Company which produced the films United Artists distributed. Additionally, the group helped to establish the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.