During the early 1900s, many audiences were transfixed by the array of movie
experiences available, included was also the array of many actors and actresses who
were beginning to make a name for themselves.
As the popularity of the film studios grew so did the actors and actresses staring in
the films, directors and producers began to understand the vital role in
which the stars played. This knowledge also introduced procedures which saw to
produce a personality for the growing stars which would hide their personal lives but
appear as commercial as possible to their fans.
In 1909 The Moving Picture World wrote the first feature on a Actor named Ben
Turpin, who at the time was an acclaimed comedian, he allowed the studio to inform
the public about his private life, which in doubt made him look human and more
attainable, this was a clever strategy from owner and founder of The Moving Picture
World, Carl Laemmle.
While Carl embraced the making of stars and
sometimes used despicable tactics to increase his stars
popularity, across the way in another film studio
Adolph Zukor founder and owner of Paramount
Pictures was taking a completely different approach.
He stated time and time again that “ We can bring the
New York stage to towns and cities outside of
New York”. (Quote from “Paramount Pictures and the
people who built them” by I.G Edmonds). He meant
that he wanted to draw mass audiences from all works of life and have them
mesmerized by his films, which can include the storyline, the visuals or simply the
stars themselves. It was at this time that Adolph Zukor found and employed Mary
Pickford, a young fresh faced actress, while other film makers established that a
younger more youthful face in their movies was the best way to gain an audience’s
approval and used actresses like Florence Lawrence and Linda Arvidson, who both
instantly became known as the Griffith Girl, the type of actresses or movie stars
audiences had come to expect on their screens. Adolph Zukor found that Mary
Pickford was his own Griffith Girl, she
was every bit a director at the time’s dream and
become one of the most recognisable
film stars to date. Mary Pickford was born Gladys
Smith in Canada 1893 and lived
without a father figure from the age of five and as
a child actress at the time became the main bread
winner for her family. During 1907, she was
discovered by David Belasco who instantly saw the potential in her, changed her name
to Pickford and offered her a position within Biograph Studios. At first she was
ridiculed for being fat but soon idolized as a Cinderella figure due to her own lost
childhood and a perfect portrayal of innocence in her films. She went on to release
many movies but did not taste real success until the release of “Tess of The Storm
Country”, where she plays a mother with a secret she can not tell the man who is in
love with her.
It was an instant success, audiences began to see what she was capable of and made
her the star of the time.
As many stars like Mary Pickford became more and more recognizable, so did the
desire for their fans to want to know more about them. During this time fan based
magazines were created and featured everything audiences needed to know about their
stars, this included Interviews, Photos and Behind-the-scenes discussions. This paved
the way for many magazines including Motion Picture Story and
Photo play, the latter being the more popular due to its younger
fresher approach. This new crave also introduced new ways to the
films themselves, new lighting features where introduced to
highlight the stars, scenes were being broken
to different shots to show action far away as well as a close up,
each of these techniques aided in...