14 October 2011

The Girl With the Curls

Mary Pickford was famous for her curls. Long, heavy ringlets that appeared golden on screen, they were the envy of women everywhere. They gave her an angelic appearance and helped her to play young girls well into her 30s.

When Mary first started out in pictures with the Biograph Company, working under the direction of D.W. Griffith, none of the company’s actors received screen credits. As Mary’s popularity grew, audiences began to demand more movies with the “Girl with the Curls.”

So it's not surprising that when Mary bobbed her hair on June 21, 1928 (she waited until her mother had died before making the drastic decision) the move made the front page of the New York Times. Shocked fans wrote letters expressing their anger at the loss of her curls, and her husband at the time, Douglas Fairbanks, reportedly wept.

Which is why I find this image of Mary so interesting. No curls in sight or the golden sheen associated with the most famous woman in the world. Instead there's just a young woman looking pensively at the camera, waiting to do the most common of things—wash her hair.

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