Saturday, March 19, 2016

Florence Lawrence

Florence Lawrence was one of the very first movie stars, yet the film going public didn't know her name. In the beginning years of cinema, the film credits only listed the studio that produced the film, so she became known as The Biograph Girl, as in Biograph Studios.

Audiences knew her face, but nothing more. This mystery seemed to make her even more in demand as she appeared in hundreds of films that ranged from Daniel Boone; or The Pioneer Days in America (in which she did her own stunts) to the popular Mr. and Mrs. Jones movies where she played Mrs. Jones.

By the time the studios caved into fan request to list the actors names in the credits, the career of Florence Lawrence had been surpassed by Mary Pickford and others in what history seems to remember as the first real stars of cinema. As the movies matured she went from uncredited major player to an uncredited extra that continued way into the sound era until her suicide in 1938. And not to pour salt on the wound, but she also invented the car signal, but never got the credit because she didn't patent it.

By today's standards, her acting talent was probably the equivalent of an average community theatre actor and even in her day, she was no Lillian Gish. However, the very first movie going public related to her and her on-camera image became widely popular even if her name didn't. Sadly, she never got the perks that come with fame, so it's better late than never to add Florence Lawrence to the list of Not Very Famous...but should be.

If you like this post, then check out my new blog When Voices Were Silent about the films and stars that made up the greatest era of motion picture history - the silent era.

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