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12,000 Aussies send their love to ‘Little Mary’

Canadian-American silent film star Mary Pickford was one of the world’s most popular movie stars during the First World War. In 1914 12,000 Australian fans signed an autograph book for her and contributed to a presentation silver cup. This film clip shows her reacting with bashful charm as she receives these tributes while filming in Hollywood.

Year:1914

Location:Hollywood, California, USA

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12,000 Aussies send their love to ‘Little Mary’

Canadian-American silent film star Mary Pickford was one of the world’s most popular movie stars during the First World War. In 1914 12,000 Australian fans signed an autograph book for her and contributed to a presentation silver cup. This film clip shows her reacting with bashful charm as she receives these tributes while filming in Hollywood.


Year: 1914

Length: 05:18

Production Company: Famous Players Studio

Credits: Director: James Kirkwood, Participant: Mary Pickford, Participant: Millard Johnson, Participant: Lily Johnson, Participant: Daniel Frohman

Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Catalogue Reference: 17183 [Mary Pickford Presentation by Australian Admirers, 1914]


People: Mary Pickford, Millard Johnson, Lily Johnson, Daniel Frohman, Mrs Frohman

Location: Hollywood, California, USA

Tags: Australia, Mary Pickford, Millard Johnson, Australasian Films Ltd, Hollywood, David Frohman, J.D. Williams Amusement Company, The Stepsisters


“Always human, lovable, and impulsive”: that’s how the Sydney Sunday Times described Mary Pickford’s character in the title role of Tess of the Storm Country when it opened in July 1914. Those words also describe how Australian audiences saw Pickford herself. Around this time, Australian newspapers sometimes even identified Pickford as Australian.

JD Williams, of the JD Williams Amusement Company, promoted Tess by harnessing Pickford’s star power. Audience members signed ‘the largest autograph book in the world’, and each paid one penny into a fund for a ‘typically Australian’ present for Pickford. Sydney’s Lord Mayor signed first, then popular stage performer Muriel Starr.

The idea was so appealing and successful that it was copied in country areas. Goulburn’s Empire Theatre initiated an ‘Empire Album’ and gift subscription.

This film clip shows Millard Johnson, the American-based film buyer for Australasian Films, and his wife Lily Gibson. The Johnsons met Daniel Frohman, a producer at Famous Players Studio in Hollywood, and presented Mary Pickford with a bouquet, the autograph book containing 12,000 signatures, and a silver 'Loving Cup' engraved with kangaroo and Australian motifs.

She was filming The Stepsisters (released as Cinderella, 1914), and was dressed for the ball. Her director James Kirkwood filmed the presentation, as Pickford responds with girlish pleasure, lowering her eyes bashfully and saying, “I thank you, Australia. You have, indeed, made me the Proudest Girl in America.”

The resulting film was returned to Australia, although it is not clear when it was screened.

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12,000 Aussies send their love to ‘Little Mary’

  • Hollywood, USA

  • 00:00

    Intertitle: Miss Mary Pickford receives the Biggest Autograph Album in the World, and the Loving Cup, presented by her Australian Admirers

  • 00:01

    Mary Pickford and cast on set. Daniel Frohman enters to halt the filming.

  • 00:27

    Daniel Frohman introduces Millard Johnson, Lily Gibson and entourage who enter the set with a bouquet of flowers to present to Pickford.

  • 01:11

    A Loving Cup and autograph album is handed to Johnson to present to Pickford

  • 01:35

    Shots of The Loving Cup

  • 02:16

    Johnson presents the Loving Cup to Pickford

  • 02:28

    Close up of the dedication on the first page of the autograph album

  • 03:06

    Frohman flicks through the pages of the album with Pickford

  • 03:17

    Close up of important autographs, including Muriel Star and R. W. Richards, Sydney’s Lord Mayor.

  • 03:43

    Johnson makes a speech. The cast applaud.

  • 05:01

    Pickford makes a speech.

  • 05:02

    Intertitle: “I thank you, Australia…..You have, indeed, made me the Proudest Girl in America”.

  • 05:11

    Pickford continues her speech.