Tuesday, April 21, 2009
PRISON TALK GIVEN BY MARY PICKFORD
She Tells 600 in Workhouse That She Never Saw a Party in Hollywood
Answers Their Questions
New York Times, March 22, 1932
Mary Pickford told 600 inmates of the Welfare Island Workhouse the inside story of Hollywood yesterday and surprised them with early-to-bed, early-to-rise tales of the stars. But featuring the program were questions with which the prisoners besieged her as for once they found themselves in a familiar field. Some nearly had her guessing.
Miss Pickford went far back into the history of the motion-picture industry, as far back as “those cheap-smelling nickelodeons.” She was then the “Biograph Blonde” or “Goldilocks,” The Biograph Company would not let her use her name because they thought the publicity might spoil her, she explained.
“Any questions?” she asked, and, pointing at a woman in the front rows, added, “I know all about Clark Gable.” Her audience, however, had no question about him.
“I can tell you about Joan Crawford,” she continued. “She’s a member of the family. She deserves credit for going out there without any friends or influence. She leaves parties at 9. She has to be up at 6:30.”
NEVER SAW A HOLLYWOOD PARTY
“You hear all this talk about Hollywood parties. I’ve been there fifteen years and I’ve never seen one.
Aren’t there any questions?”
But when the prisoners did begin to respond their concern was mainly for the starts who had passed off the screen. “Where’s Pearl White?” finally came a deep voice from down the aisle.
“She lives near Cairo,” Miss Pickford answered. “And I hear that she is engaged to a very rich man. She is still as beautiful as she was the ‘Perils of Pauline.’”
“Is Dolores Costello coming back to pictures again?” a concerned voice enquired.
“No, I don’t think so. John Barrymore adores her.”
“Is it true, Mary, that Richard Talmadge took ‘acrobatical’ lessons from Doug?”
“I don’t know. He certainly had a chance if he wanted to.
“Who is the next Lon Chaney of the screen?”
“I don’t think that there will ever be another.”
“Why did that heartbreaker, Theda Bara, leave the stage?”
“She had lived her cycle. We depend on you people, the public, you know.”
“Is Pola Negri still sick?”
“Oh no, she’s right here in New York – in person. She’s a peach.”
“Are those dogs in dog pictures trained?”
“Yes, it takes infinite pains. And it’s done with love and not whipping.”
“Is Norma Talmadge coming back?”
I’ve heard rumors but I doubt it.”
NEVER SAW CLARA BOW
“What do you think of Clara Bow?”
“Well, to tell you the truth, I have never seen her. But I may do a picture with her.”
Applause greeted that announcement.
She told them that one can get along without food in Hollywood, but not without a car, for there is too much distance to travel. She said she wished that she could produce some statistics on the hardship undergone by the “extras,” but added that “it might be too depressing for you boys and girls.”
“I can remember when I looked first at the price of food,” she said. “’Fifteen cents, that’s me,’ I would say. Then, ‘What is it? Can I eat it?’ I can still see the dents I made in Seventh Avenue walking up and down it.”
She told them that setbacks such as theirs would bring out the best in them. “You’re getting spiritual exercise for your muscles,” she said. When this brought forth a laugh, she added: “I know it sounds funny to thank God for such a thing, but use it as a stepping stone for something finer.”
Miss Pickford blew two kisses past the microphone into the audience. Richard C. Patterson, Jr., Commissioner of Correction, stepped up and said “There’s only on America’s Sweetheart.”