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Jack Pickford Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (14)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 18 August 1895Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date of Death 3 January 1933Paris, France  (progressive multiple neuritis)
Birth NameJohn Carl Smith
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Nepotism certainly has had its advantages in Hollywood, none more so than in the film career of Jack Pickford, whose famous older sis, "America's Sweetheart" Mary Pickford, saw to it that Jack had all the advantages her star weight could muster. Born in Toronto, Canada, in 1896, Jack was prompted by his actress/mother, Charlotte Smith, to follow Mary into show business. As a child actor on stage, he quickly developed into a colorful juvenile player. It was Mary who made him a fixture with Biograph pictures starting in 1909 at the age of 13. When Mary signed her famous million-dollar contract with First National in 1917, one of her stipulations was that Jack receive a lucrative contract as well. However, the boy just couldn't stay out of trouble no matter what or where he was. A stint in the navy proved disastrous when Jack was accused of accepting bribes from rich men to help them stay out of front-line action. With the help of his family, he was exonerated--- regardless, he received a general discharge, which was more than he deserved. Despite limited acting talent, Jack found boy-next-door success as Pip in Great Expectations (1917) and the title hero Tom Sawyer (1917), and went on to become a fairly popular star on his own. He even produced several of his own films. Some of his better films during this time included The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1920), The Man Who Had Everything (1920) and Waking Up the Town (1925), but a taste for the high life soon took over. A ne'er-do-well playboy and carouser, he aroused more public interest because of his scandalous off-camera life than in the light romantic films he appeared in. He picked up alcohol, drug and gambling addictions to accompany his partying lifestyle. First wife actress Olive Thomas died after accidentally consuming mercury bichloride in Paris in 1920 after only four years of marriage, and his next two marriages-- to Broadway musical star Marilyn Miller and minor actress Mary Mulhern--would also end disastrously. All three wives were Ziegfeld girls at one time. By the late 1920s Jack was completely undependable and, with the advent of sound, his career ground to a screeching halt, despite ever-faithful Mary's continued attempts to rescue it. Jack's health deteriorated considerably after this letdown, with frequent bouts of syphilis adding to the complications of his long term substance abuse. He died young at 36. The cause was listed as "progressive multiple neuritis", but it was almost certainly precipitated by his chronic alcoholism-- a tragic and seemingly unnecessary end for a boy who chose to tarnish the silver platter readily handed to him.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (3)

Mary Mulhern (12 August 1930 - 3 January 1933) (his death)
Marilyn Miller (30 July 1922 - 2 November 1927) (divorced)
Olive Thomas (25 October 1916 - 10 September 1920) (her death)

Trivia (14)

Brother of actresses Mary Pickford and Lottie Pickford.
While in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1918, he was involved in a scandal that almost got him court-martialed. Along with other officers and enlisted men, he was accused of soliciting and accepting bribes from wealthy enlisted draftees who wanted light shore duty. The servicemen originally assigned to do the light shore duty were then assigned to shipboard duty and sent into combat. Jack's mother, Charlotte Smith, had a secret meeting with President Woodrow Wilson's personal secretary, Joseph Tumulty. Tumulty wrote a letter to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels requesting that Jack be discharged so he could make a movie designed to increase interest in the Army Air Corps. Daniels granted Jack a general discharge before the court-martial began (Charlotte had sought an honorable discharge). The others involved in the scandal were court-martialed, sentenced to up to three years in the brig and dishonorably discharged. Tumulty later claimed no knowledge of the graft charges or Jack's impending court-martial.
Brother-in-law of Owen Moore.
Brother-in-law of Douglas Fairbanks.
Last of 3 children.
Brother-in-law of Allan Forrest.
Named after his father.
Son of actress Charlotte Smith.
Given co-director credit for a couple of sister Mary Pickford's films: Little Lord Fauntleroy (1921) and Through the Back Door (1921).
All 3 of his wives, Olive Thomas, Marilyn Miller, and Mary Mulhern, were Ziegfeld Follies girls.
In 2000 a documentary was made on Jack's life by Elaina Archer, then the librarian for the Mary Pickford Institute. Titled "In Mary's Shadow: The Jack Pickford Story" it has yet to be released on DVD, but was released on VHS.
Was favored and spoiled by his sister Mary Pickford, though he was very close with his sister Lottie Pickford.
The actor/director team of Jack Pickford and William Desmond Taylor were considered one of Paramount's best and they collaborated on seven films.
When thirteen-year old Jack arrived on the same train to California acting as his sister's chaperon, he threw such a tantrum about going back that D.W. Griffith agreed to accept him also and pay him $15 a week.

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