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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 6 January 1885New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death 28 August 1946Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
Nicknames The Vitagraph Girl
Flotie
Height 4' 10" (1.47 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Widely publicized as "The Vitagraph Girl," dark-haired silent film actress Florence Turner was one of the screen's first celebrities to be called by the term "movie star." Born in New York City in 1885, she was pushed into the business at age 3 by an overzealous stage mother, performing on the vaudeville stage as Eugenie Florence. Audiences took delight in her talents as an impressionist of well-known stage actresses of the time such as Marie Dressler. Florence was a full-fledged professional by the time she hooked up with Vitagraph Studios in 1906 as a wardrobe mistress/cashier/actress.

Making her film debut in Cast Up by the Sea (1907), Turner was prominently displayed in front of the camera within a short period of time. Appearing in the company's more quality pieces, she formed a sturdy pairing with Maurice Costello and other matinée idols of the day. The diminutive, forlorn-looking performer eventually tested the acting waters in London in 1913, and was directed frequently by long-time friend Lawrence Trimble, occasionally collaborating on screenplays. She also contributed to her livelihood making appearances in music halls, still amazing audiences with her impersonations of everybody from Alla Nazimova to Charles Chaplin. She organized her own production company, Turner Films, and made more than 30 shorts, becoming the first star of the screen to take on producing chores. In 1915 she was the top box-office star.

Florence maintained a highly visible transatlantic career for nearly a decade while appearing both here and in England in everything from classic Shakespeare (The Merchant of Venice (1908), Richard III (1908)) and historical epics (A Tale of Two Cities (1911), The Deerslayer (1913)) to classic drama (Far from the Madding Crowd (1915), Through the Valley of Shadows (1914), My Old Dutch (1915)). Her career started slipping after WWI, however, and by 1924 she was forced to settle permanently in Hollywood when the British film market dried up completely. At this point she had to make do as a stock player for MGM. The advent of sound was the final nail in her career's coffin, unfortunately. It was a respectful MGM that kept her on the payroll for the next decade, albeit in bit parts and extra roles.

She died practically forgotten at the Woodland Hills, California, Motion Picture Country Home in 1946 at age 61.

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

Trivia (3)

Daughter of Frances Turner
In June 1910 the New York Dramatic Mirror wrote a story on Florence titled "A Motion Picture Star," perhaps the first time the phrase came into the public consciousness.
She was a major star at Vitagraph in the late 'teens and '20s, but by the 1930s her career had sunk to the point where she was doing occasional day work as an extra. In 1937 MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer, hearing of her plight, offered her a contract at MGM as a stock extra, guaranteeing her a steady income. She stayed at MGM for four years, then in 1941 entered the Motion Picture Country Home, where she died in 1946.

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