Mary Pickford


Mary Pickford’s ambition, passion, innate talent, and savvy business acumen sent her career into the stratosphere and set the blueprint for the modern movie star. Born Gladys Louise Smith in 1892, Pickford was raised in a house on University Avenue in Toronto and began her acting career on the stage. However, her determination led her to the new world of motion pictures, where she not only revolutionized acting method but negotiated her own terms for the highest salary for any actress and complete creative control over her films – unheard of behaviour for a woman of that period.

Pickford co-founded United Artists in 1919 with Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin, which turned the existing studio system on its head. The actress’s subsequent marriage to Fairbanks incited a fan frenzy comparable to today’s obsession with couples like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Although Pickford’s star faded with the advent of talking pictures, she was the catalyst for the culture of Hollywood celebrity that enthralls us today.


"Whether you are Canadian or American, this is a great read, not only about the life of Mary Pickford but an inside look at the birth of the movie industry." (December, 2011)

“…successfully uses imagined dialogue and quotations from Pickford’s own memoirs to add zest to the narrative.”

CM Magazine (January, 2012)

“..true inspiration for young women, whether it be aspiring actors, building self-esteem, or for the ambitious soul in becoming motivated.”

Resource Links (February, 2012)

“Mary Pickford: Canada’s Silent Siren, America’s Sweetheart is an entertaining read about a great entertainer.”

Canada’s History

About the Author

Peggy Dymond Leavey

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

Peggy Dymond Leavey

Peggy Dymond-Leavey is a writer, poet, and storyteller. Her books for young people include Sky Lake Summer, The Deep End Gang, The Path Through the Trees, and Growing Up Ivy. She is the author of Quest biographies Mary Pickford and Laura Secord, which was a finalist for the Speaker's Book Award in 2013. Peggy lives in Trenton, Ontario.