L.S. Klepp
September 26, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Eileen Whitfield, Mary Pickford
genre
Biography, Movies

We gave it a B

While the great stars of silent-film comedy — Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel and Hardy — are still with us, the great stars of silent drama — Valentino, Clara Bow, Theda Bara, Mary Pickford — have faded from view. Eileen Whitfield, a Canadian film critic, makes the case in Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood that Pickford was a far better actress than her saccharine image suggests. Indeed, the bio includes some fascinating moments, like the birth of the celebrity culture (Pickford is almost torn apart by adoring mobs in 1920s London and Paris). But the actress’ long decline, fueled by alcohol and punctuated by her being rejected for the Norma Desmond role in 1950’s Sunset Blvd., makes her downhill story an uphill struggle for the author. B

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