One who preceded Mary as "The Biograph Girl" was Hamilton-born Florence Lawrence. Born Florence Annie Bridgwood on June 2, 1886, she was billed for her earliest theatre performances as "Baby Flo, the Child Wonder Whistler."
Six years older than Mary, Florence was already a member of the permanent company at the Biograph studio in New York when seventeen-year-old Mary Pickford arrived, looking for work in the "flickers."
Unfortunately, Florence Lawrence's story has a tragic ending. She was seriously burned in a staged fire that got out of control at another studio in 1915, and as a result, she was in shock for months. Although Florence had already made hundreds of movies, she never fully recovered from the trauma and was never able to regain her previous stature as a star. She took her own life by ingesting ant paste just after Christmas, 1938.
Look for mention of Florence Lawrence in Mary Pickford: Canada's Silent Siren, America's Sweetheart, available in September, 2011.