Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Mary Pickford and the Nickelodeon
Nickelodeons were so called because the price of admission was usually a nickel. For that price, one might see three reels of motion picture film and an illustrated song. Tickets for a Broadway show or vaudeville were expensive, out of reach of most of the working poor. But nickelodeons were affordable.
Often located in downtown neighbourhoods, nickelodeons were potential fire traps, cramped and fetid, the seating a collection of rickety old chairs. A piano player or violinist would be seated at the front next to the screen (usually a white sheet hung up) to provide musical accompaniment to match the action in the silent film.
The stock stage companies of which Mary had been a part and which had provided her and her family with a living, shut down for the summer months because the theatres got too hot. But the voracious appetite for motion pictures created by the nickelodeons meant the film studios were busy year round.
And Mary Pickford was looking for work.
TO BE CONTINUED