Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$40 Million
Apr 8, 1892 - May 29, 1979 (87 years old)
5 ft (1.54 m)
Actor, Film Producer, Writer, Screenwriter
United States of America
💰 Compare Mary Pickford's Net Worth

What was Mary Pickford's Net Worth?

Mary Pickford was a Canadian-American actress and film studio co-founder who had a net worth of $40 million at the time of her death in 1979. After adjusting for inflation, that's the same as around $170 million in today's dollars.

Pickford was the co-founder of the film studio United Artists. She was also one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. She was known as "Little Mary", "American's Sweetheart", and "the girl with the curls". Pickford was known as one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood. She was named 24th by the American Film Institute of the greatest female stars of all time. Mary had over 250 acting credits to her name. Her first credited roles came in 1909 and she starred in many shorts over the next few years. Pickford starred in 52 feature films. In 1916 she signed a record breaking contract of $10,000 a week for a salary. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Coquette in 1980 and also won an Honorary Academy Award in 1976. Pickford was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6280 Hollywood Blvd in 1960. Mary Pickford passed away on May 29, 1979 from a cerebral hemorrhage at 87 years old.

Early Life

Mary Pickford was born as Gladys Marie Smith on April 8, 1892 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to John Smith and actress Charlotte Hennessey. She had two younger siblings, Lottie and Jack, both of whom also became actors. The kids' father was an alcoholic, and he abandoned the family and passed away in 1898. In 1899, the family started taking in boarders, one of whom was theatrical stage manager Mr. Murphy. It was he who helped Pickford land her first acting roles.

Career Beginnings on Stage

In Toronto, Pickford appeared in many plays as a child. By the turn of the 20th century, she and her family had become a major theatrical enterprise, touring the United States by rail. In 1905, Pickford made her Broadway debut in Hal Reid's "The Gypsy Girl." The following year, she appeared alongside her siblings on Broadway in "Edmund Burke." Pickford went on to act in "The Warrens of Virginia."

Film Acting, Part 1

In 1909, Pickford did a screen test for the Biograph Company's nickelodeon "Pippa Passes." Although she didn't get the role, she impressed Biograph director D.W. Griffith so much that he hired her to appear in his company's films. Pickford went on to be a popular star at Biograph, playing a variety of roles in numerous films, making about one every week. One of her first starring roles was in "The Violin Maker of Cremona," opposite her future husband Owen Moore. In early 1910, Pickford traveled to Los Angeles, where she quickly gained fame as the "Biograph Girl." After leaving Biograph at the end of the year, she began starring in films for Carl Laemmle's Independent Moving Pictures Company; that company was soon absorbed into Universal Pictures. Dissatisfied with the studio's creative standards, Pickford returned to Biograph in 1912 and made such films as "The Mender of Nets," "Just Like a Woman," and "The Female of the Species." Her final film for Biograph was "The New York Hat."

Following a return to Broadway in 1912, Pickford realized she was more passionate about film acting. She subsequently joined Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Film Company, where she starred in such pictures as "In the Bishop's Carriage," "Caprice," and "Hearts Adrift." The lattermost film, the first to have Pickford's name listed above the title on marquees, was especially successful. With her next film, "Tess of the Storm Country," Pickford became the most popular actress in the country and arguably the world.

Michael O'Keefe

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Film Acting, Part 2

In 1916, Pickford signed a new contract with Zukor that gave her full authority over the production of films she starred in. Moreover, she was given a record-breaking $10,000-a-week salary, plus a guaranteed $1.04 million in compensation for each of her films. Pickford went on to star in many films, often playing a child, as in "The Poor Little Rich Girl" and "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm." After her contract with Zukor expired in 1918 and she refused his terms for renewal, Pickford went to First National Pictures. In 1919, along with D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks, she co-founded the production and distribution company United Artists, through which she produced and acted in her own films. She had great success with her films "Pollyanna," "Little Lord Fauntleroy," and "Rosita," among others. From 1925 to 1927, before the arrival of sound to cinema, Pickford starred in such titles as "Little Annie Rooney," "Sparrows," and "My Best Girl."

An opponent of talkies, Pickford began a slow decline once sound was introduced to motion pictures. However, she had success with her first talkie, 1929's "Coquette," which earned her the second-ever Academy Award for Best Actress. Pickford followed that with the poorly received "The Taming of the Shrew," made with her husband Douglas Fairbanks. No longer able to play her signature roles of children, teenagers, or feisty young women, and ill-suited to the vampish heroines of early sound pictures, Pickford was on her way out of film acting stardom. In 1933, she officially retired after making her final film appearance in "Secrets."

Other Activities

During her Hollywood career, Pickford leveraged her stardom to promote various causes. During World War I, she campaigned for the sale of liberty bonds, and at the end of the war conceived of the Motion Picture Relief Fund to help actors in financial need. Pickford also co-founded the young women's dormitory the Hollywood Studio Club with Constance Adams DeMille. In 1919, she co-founded Pickford-Fairbanks Studios with Douglas Fairbanks, and in 1927 was among the 36 founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


After retiring from film acting, Pickford focused on behind-the-scenes work and became vice president of United Artists. She continued producing films for others, with credits including "One Rainy Afternoon," "The Gay Desperado," and "Love Happy." Pickford also wrote the 1935 novel "The Demi-Widow," and 20 years after that published her memoirs, "Sunshine and Shadows." In 1956, she sold her remaining shares in United Artists for $3 million. Later, in 1970, she agreed to donate 50 of her Biograph films to the American Film Institute. In 1976, Pickford received an Academy Honorary Award for her contributions to cinema.

Personal Life and Death

Pickford was married three times. She wed her first husband, film actor Owen Moore, in 1911; plagued by Moore's alcoholism and violent behavior, the marriage ended in divorce in 1920. During the marriage, Pickford began an affair with actor Douglas Fairbanks, whom she married just days after her divorce from Moore. The couple was exalted as Hollywood royalty, hosting legendary celebrity events at their Beverly Hills mansion and estate, Pickfair. However, the highly public nature of Pickford's marriage to Fairbanks caused strain to the relationship, which was compounded by their busy schedules and Fairbanks' affair with Sylvia, Lady Ashley. The pair ended up divorcing in early 1936. Pickford wed her third and final husband, actor and band leader Buddy Rogers, in 1937. They adopted two children named Roxanne and Ronald.

Pickford descended into alcoholism after retiring from screen acting. She fell into a depression due to the death of her mother from breast cancer and both of her siblings from alcohol-related health issues, and was also despondent over the end of the silent film era and her divorce from Fairbanks. Pickford gradually withdrew from public life and became a recluse, allowing only scarce visits to her Pickfair mansion. In May of 1979, she passed away in Santa Monica, California from complications from a cerebral hemorrhage. Pickford was 87 years of age.

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