Lottie Pickford (Charlotte Smith)

Lottie Pickford

In 1907, Lottie Pickford adopted the stage name ‘Mary Pickford’. The rest of the family adopted the Pickford name by the time they began appearing in films. Mary signed with D.W. Griffith’s Biograph Company in 1909 and also secured work for her siblings. Between 1909 and 1910, Mary made eighty shorts, Jack made twenty-eight, and Lottie made twenty-five. Of the three Pickfords, Lottie’s talents were considered the weakest. Actress Linda Arvidson said Mary had decided her sister was not pretty enough for films, and had done her best to keep her away from Biograph. When the Biograph Company departed for California, Lottie Pickford and her mother were left behind. She would eventually join her sister in California. Away from her elder sister, Pickford’s first starring role came in 1914 in The House of Bondage. It was a vice film, with Pickford playing a prostitute. This greatly contrasted her sister’s role as “America’s Sweetheart”. The film did not receive good reviews, being considered too crude. In 1915, Pickford appeared in Fanchon, the Cricket, opposite both her siblings. It is the only film in which all three Pickford siblings appear. It was thought lost until rediscovered in the 20th century at the British Film Institute. Lottie Pickford starred in The Diamond from the Sky serial (1915) although, to her humiliation, she was only given the role after Mary turned it down. A Photoplay article from around the time of the release declared her “Pickford The Second!” and compared her to her sister, albeit as a worthy sequel. The serial was jeopardized when she became pregnant. This incident put her on the unofficial Hollywood blacklist for a short time. Pickford performed in only five roles between 1915 and 1918, when she took a break from acting.

Lottie Pickford divorced her first husband. She next appeared in the starring role in 1921’s They Shall Pay in which co-starred Allan Forrest, her future husband. Pickford again took several years’ time off from acting before returning in a minor role in the 1924 film Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall. Her final role was opposite her brother-in-law Douglas Fairbanks Sr. in Don Q Son of Zorro in 1925. During her career, Pickford starred in eight features, while her brother starred in over forty features. Pickford was a socialite and partying was her first love. She and her brother Jack both struggled with alcoholism later in life. Her parties were legendary and lasted until morning; drugs and alcohol were plentiful, as was nudity. Pickford’s maid recalled that when they heard Mary’s car pulling in, Pickford and her friends would “Jump into their knickers!” Despite her reputation as a party girl, Pickford was considered to be down to earth, friendly, sweet, and unpretentious. On December 6, 1936, Lottie Pickford suffered a heart attack at the age of 43. She was said to have been in failing health for three years, related to alcohol abuse. She died three days later at her home in Beverly Hills. Her funeral was held on December 13 at Wee Kirk o’ the Heather Church in Glendale, California. She is buried in the Pickford family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

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Born

  • June, 09, 1893
  • Canada
  • Toronto, Ontario

Died

  • December, 09, 1936
  • USA
  • Los Angeles, California

Cause of Death

  • heart attack

Cemetery

  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
  • Glendale, California
  • USA

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