Jack Pickford
Actor
Jack Pickford
Jack Pickford was a Canadian-born American actor, brother of early filmstar Mary Pickford. After their father deserted the family, all three Pickford children had to take work as child actors. When Mary broke into films, Jack went to Hollywood with her, but was never in her league. When she signed her first $1 million contract, he was mostly playing the boy-next-door in B-films. Some claimed that he had great talent, but suffered from living in her shadow.
Biography
Jack Pickford's personal information overview.
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    THIRTIES
  • 1933
    Age 36
    Jack Pickford died at the American Hospital of Paris on January 3, 1933.
    More Details Hide Details The cause for his death was listed as "progressive multiple neuritis which attacked all the nerve centers". This was believed due to his alcoholism. Mary Pickford arranged for his body to be returned to Los Angeles, where he was interred in the private Pickford plot at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Jack Pickford has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1523 Vine Street.
  • 1932
    Age 35
    In 1932, Pickford visited his sister Mary at Pickfair.
    More Details Hide Details According to Mary, he looked ill and emaciated; his clothes were hanging on him as if he were a clothes hanger. Mary Pickford recalled in her autobiography that she felt a wave of premonition when watching her brother leave. As they started down the stairs to the automobile entrance, Jack called back to her, "Don’t come down with me, Mary dear, I can go alone." Mary later wrote that as she stood at the top of the staircase, an inner voice said, "That’s the last time you’ll see Jack".
    She was granted an interlocutory divorce in February 1932 which had yet to be finalized at the time of Pickford's death.
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  • 1930
    Age 33
    Pickford's final marriage was to Mary Mulhern, age 22 and also a former Ziegfeld girl, whom he married on August 12, 1930.
    More Details Hide Details After two years of marriage, Mulhern left Pickford, claiming that he mistreated her throughout the marriage.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1922
    Age 25
    Pickford married two more times. On July 31, 1922, he married Marilyn Miller, a celebrated Broadway dancer and former Ziegfeld girl, at his sister and brother-in-law's famed home Pickfair. By most accounts he was not kind to her and was abusive in the marriage. They separated in 1926 and Miller was granted a French divorce in November 1927.
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  • 1918
    Age 21
    In early 1918, after the United States entered World War I, Pickford joined the United States Navy.
    More Details Hide Details Using the famous Pickford name, he soon became involved in a scheme that allowed rich young men to pay bribes to avoid military service, as well as reportedly procuring young women for officers. For his involvement, Pickford was nearly dishonorably discharged. Pickford met actress and Ziegfeld girl Olive Thomas at a beach cafe on the Santa Monica Pier. Thomas was just as wild as Pickford. Screenwriter Frances Marion remarked " I had seen her Thomas often at the Pickford home, for she was engaged to Mary's brother, Jack. Two innocent-looking children, they were the gayest, wildest brats who ever stirred the stardust on Broadway. Both were talented, but they were much more interested in playing the roulette of life than in concentrating on their careers." Pickford and Thomas eloped on October 25, 1916 in New Jersey. None of their family was present and their only witness was Thomas Meighan. The couple had no children of their own, though in 1920, they adopted Olive's then-six-year-old nephew when his mother died. Although by most accounts Olive was the love of Pickford's life, the marriage was stormy and filled with highly charged conflict, followed by lavish making up through the exchange of expensive gifts. For many years the Pickfords had intended to vacation together and with their marriage on the rocks, the couple decided to take a second honeymoon.
  • 1917
    Age 20
    In 1917 he starred in one of his first major roles as "Pip" in the adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, as well as the title role in Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer.
    More Details Hide Details During World War I, Pickford served a stint in the Navy; afterward he returned to making films. By 1923, his roles had gone from several a year to one. In 1928, he finished his last film, acting as Clyde Baxter in Gang War. Through the years he dabbled in writing and directing; however, he never pursued either form further. Most of his films were considered B movies, though he was able to make a name for himself. Pickford's image was that of the All-American boy. Despite his "boy next door" image, Pickford's private life was one of drinking and drug abuse, and womanizing, culminating in the severe alcoholism that resulted in his early death. In the early days of Hollywood, movie studios were able to cover up almost all of their stars' misbehavior, but within the Hollywood crowd, Jack Pickford's behind-the scenes activities made him a legend in his own time.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1896
    Born
    He was born John Charles Smith in 1896 in Toronto, Ontario, to John Charles Smith, an English immigrant odd-job man of Methodist background, and Charlotte Hennessy Smith, who was Irish Catholic.
    More Details Hide Details He was called Jack as a child. His alcoholic father left the family while Pickford was a young child. This incident left the family impoverished. Out of desperation, Charlotte allowed Jack and his two sisters Gladys and Lottie to appear onstage, beginning with Gladys, the eldest. This proved a good source of income and, by 1900, the family had relocated to New York City and the children were acting in plays across the United States. Due to the work the family was constantly separated until 1910 when Gladys signed with Biograph Studios. By that time his sister 'Gladys Smith' had been transformed into Mary Pickford (Marie was her middle name, and Pickford an old family name). Following suit, the Smiths changed their stage names to 'Pickford'. Soon after signing with Biograph, Mary secured jobs for all the family, including the then-fourteen-year-old Jack. When the Biograph Company headed West to Hollywood, only Mary was to go, until Jack pleaded to join the company as well. Much to Mary's protest, Charlotte threw him on the train as it left the station. The company arrived in Hollywood, where Jack acted in bit parts during the stay.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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