Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 98

94 Populär Culture Review whatsoever. M y whole life was wrapped up in the Creative. The career is a very exciting thing. In fact, it’s a monster. It possesses you, body and soul” (Eyman 158). Because Pickford began acting in plays and movies at such a young age in order to Support her family, she never had a real childhood, and her career offered her little leisure time. Thus, she immersed herseif in her little-girl movie roles, which gave her the opportunity to go back in time and experience on screen a childhood and carefree life she never had. There she could run, get dirty in the mud, ride ponies, play games, tussle with boys, flirt a little, act tough, and let o ff steam. H er approach to filmmaking exemplified the intensity of trying to pack everything in, which resonated with early film audiences. As Powell theorizes, the emerging modern society was obsessed with a temporal paradox: “we require less time to travel, communicate, to produce and consume, but then this time ‘saved’ is countered by the quest to pack in ever more things to each temporally charged moment because we can” (Powell 26-27). Even in the great romance o f Mary Pickford’s life, time imagery played a m ajor role. In late 1916, while Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were strongly attracted to one another but still married to their first spouses, Fairbanks’s estranged mother, Ella Fairbanks, died suddenly. At the fiineral, Fairbanks showed no emotion, but a few days later, as he and Pickford were driving through Central Park, he began to weep uncontrollably. As Pickford tried to comfort him, she noticed that the clock on the car’s dashboard had stopped at the precise hour o f Ella Fairbanks’s death. According to Pickford biographer Scott Eyman, Mary and Douglas, who used the pet names “Hipper” and “Duber” for one another, “took this as a sign from beyond, a justification and sanctification o f their growing love for each other. In years to come, whenever their love needed to be stressed to one another, either verbally or in letters or telegrams, they would say ‘by the clock’” (112). They exchanged this phrase regularly, even after Pickford filed for divorce in 1934 and they subsequently married other people. Their divorce became final on January 10, 1936, and when Fairbanks suffered a fatal heart in December 1939, he was still using it: he told his brother Robert, “If anything happens to me, I want you to give Mary a message. Teil her By the Clock" (251). Robert Fairbanks delivered it the next day. In later years, Pickford would suggest that she could stop time in her mind. She said o f the vibrant Fairbanks, “He was a little boy, always . . . He was just in life as he was on the screen” (Whitfield 162).