Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 101

Mary Pickford: The Little Girl 97 are being solved about ourselves and the universe around us. There is no time or space, I leamed” (Pickford, My Rendezvous 1). In his classic book, Movies in an Age o f Innocence, Edward Wageknecht assesses Pickford’s importance. “I have often said,” he writes, “that I do not believe anybody can understand America in the years during and after the First W orld W ar who does not understand the vogue o f Mary Pickford” (Wagenknecht 11). Her narratives, which she often wrote herseif, along with best friend Frances Marion, enabled audiences to tum back time, to remember what it was like to be young, alone, and searching for a sense o f belonging. The little girl’s stories resonated, especially, with new immigrants seeking to find their place in an urban, industrialized America. With grit, pluck, playfulness, and good will, the Pickford persona forged forward when all appeared dim, winning people’s sympathy. This is the Mary Pickford that first captivated viewers, the starting image that they embraced. If films are frozen in time, silent film audiences wanted their stars to be too, for no one had quite figured out stardom yet, how to mature on the screen. In an often quoted homage, Cecil B. DeMille recalls Pickford’s celebrity: “Somewhere, sometime, a phrase was bom: ‘Am erica’s Sweetheart.’ Thousands o f such phrases are bom daily in Hollywood. M ost o f them, mercifully, die young. About once in a generation such a phrase lives, because it is more than a phrase: it is a fact. I do not know who first called M ary Pickford ‘Am erica’s Sweetheart,’ but whoever he was, he put into words the most remarkable personal achievement o f its kind in the history o f motion pictures. There have been hundreds o f stars. There have been scores o f fine actresses in motion pictures. There has only been one Mary Pickford” (qtd. in Lee 17). On screen, in her own life, and in the culture o f America, her timing was impeccable. Virginia Weslyan College Kathy Merlock Jackson Works Cited Basinger, Jeanine. Silent Stars. New York: Knopf, 1999. Beauchamp, Cari. Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women o f Early Hollywood. New York: Scribner, 1997. Eyman, Scott. Mary Pickford: America’s Sweetheart. New York: Donald I. Fine, 1990. Lee, Raymond. The Films o f Mary Pic/ford. New York: Castle Books, 1970.