Thursday, February 9, 2012

"And the Oscar goes to . . ."

Mary Pickford in Coquette, 1929.
February is "Oscar" month, so here's a bit of trivia about Mary Pickford's relationship to the Academy Awards.The Oscars took on a whole new significance for me when I began writing the biography of Mary Pickford.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences began as an idea discussed over dinner with actor Conrad Nagel, director Fred Niblo, and producer Fred Beetson at the home of Louis B. Mayer, MGM studio chief.

Mary Pickford and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., became two of the founders of the organization. The Academy was officially announced at a gala banquet in Los Angeles in May 1927. Mary used to refer to the organization as "the motion picture league of nations."

The first-ever Oscar (as the awards were later dubbed) for Best Picture went to Wings, a silent film made in 1927. Co-starring in the movie were the "It" girl, Clara Bow, and Charles "Buddy" Rogers, who would within ten years become Mary's third husband.

The first Academy Award for an actress in a talkie went to . . .  ? You guessed it: Mary Pickford, in 1930 for Coquette. The film was the first talking picture made by a major star of the silent screen.

For more about Toronto-born Mary Pickford, the most important woman in the history of motion pictures, check out Mary Pickford: Canada's Silent Siren, America's Sweetheart.

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