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Florence Lawrence Poster

Biography

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Overview (5)

Date of Birth 2 January 1886Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Date of Death 28 December 1938Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (suicide)
Birth NameFlorence Annie Bridgwood
Nicknames "Queen of the Screen"
The 'Biograph Girl' and the 'Imp Girl.'
Height 5' 3" (1.6 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Florence Lawrence was the first film player whose name was used to promote her films and the studio (Independent Moving Pictures Company [IMP]) for which she worked. Before her, actors and actresses worked anonymously, partly out of fear that stage managers would refuse to hire them if they were found to be working in films and partly because movie executives didn't want to put much money into the production of these short, practically disposable films, and didn't want their players to become well known and start demanding higher salaries. Lawrence was on the stage from age three, appearing in musicals and plays, whistling and playing the violin. At 20 she was cast in the Edison production of Daniel Boone (1907), and that led to work at Vitagraph Studios. From there she was hired by Biograph, where she refined and perfected her craft under the direction of D.W. Griffith. In 1909 she left Biograph to seek more recognizable employment at another film company. As a result she was blacklisted by the Motion Picture Trust, headed by Thomas A. Edison, to which most motion-picture producers belonged and which held the patents on most film production equipment and would not allow any companies that did not belong to the Trust to use them. Carl Laemmle started IMP in late 1909, and refused to join the Motion Picture Trust. The Trust took action--both legal and otherwise--to discourage Laemmle from producing films on his own. Lawrence and her husband, director Harry Solter, signed on as IMP's first featured players. In 1910 Laemmle, partly out of anger over the Trust's actions--such as hiring thugs to attack his film crews and wreck his equipment--decided to advertise the fact that he had Miss Lawrence. She made the first personal appearance of a film star in St. Louis, MO, that March, and the resulting publicity made her famous (and also increased the grosses on her--and Laemmle's--films). Other film companies soon followed suit, and the names of film actors and actresses began to appear in all segments of the media. Lawrence worked for IMP for a year, then spent another year at Lubin before she began her own production company, Victor, where she worked on and off until 1914. After a stage accident in which she injured her back, she retired from films, only to be lured back in 1916 for her first feature, Elusive Isabel (1916). It was unsuccessful. She tried a comeback again in 1921; that, too, was unsuccessful. She settled into bit parts and character roles through the 1920s and 1930s. She committed suicide in 1938 after years of unhappiness and illness. She was found in her apartment on Dec. 27, 1938 and died soon afterward in hospital.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: <florencelawrence@yahoo.com>

Spouse (3)

Henry Bolton (27 November 1933 - 1934) (divorced)
Charles Bryne Woodring (12 May 1921 - 1932) (divorced)
Harry Solter (30 August 1908 - 2 March 1920) (his death)

Trivia (11)

Silent-screen actress
Fired from Biograph when she was discovered to be negotiating with Carl Laemmle of Independent Motion Picture Company.
Committed suicide using ant paste.
Entered films with Vitagraph in 1907.
The birth date on her gravestone is 1890, but many sources say 1886.
Credited with inventing the first automobile turn and brake signals. The signals were operated by the driver pressing a button, and an arm on the back of the car indicating the turn direction or a stop. She did not patent the inventions, and they were superseded by more streamlined systems.
She is the subject of the novel "The Biograph Girl" (2000) by William J. Mann, who imagines Lawrence didn't die in 1938 from ingesting ant poison and is still alive in the late 1990's.
In the early 1900s, she was officially known as the "Biograph Girl" for the 'American Mutoscope & Biograph [us]'.
Lawrence played the lead in The Adventures of Dollie," the first film that Griffith ever directed.
When Florence Lawrence left Biograph for IMP, the former company knowingly reported that she had died. IMP's head, Carl Laemmle countered on March 3, 1910 with the now famous headline "WE NAIL A LIE." When the Patents Company found that a particular theatre was showing an IMP film, it lost its right to show any films produced by the monopolistic Trust.
Her mother, Charlotte "Lotta" Dunn Bridgwood, was an Irish-born vaudevillian who acted professionally under the name "Lotta Lawrence", which was the source of Florence's stage name. Lotta's company, the Lawrence Dramatic Company, operated in the Hamilton, Ontario area. Florence made her stage debut with the company sometime around her fourth birthday. She was an accomplished whistler who had earned the nickname "Baby Flo, the Child Wonder Whistler" by the time she was six years old.

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