The Power of Her Legacy Endures...
When Mary Pickford revised her will in 1971, she empowered and authorized three named directors to form a non-profit corporation upon her death. When Pickford’s estate was probated in 1982, instead of creating a new foundation, the directors activated the long dormant “Mary Pickford Foundation” that was originally formed by Pickford in the 1950s. In 1982, the Mary Pickford Foundation – with assets of only $312 – received $8 million from the Pickford estate, the bulk coming from the sale of Pickfair and the $3 million she reinvested from the sale of United Artists. Since then, the Mary Pickford Foundation has disbursed almost $20 million in charitable giving, and currently has assets of $17 million.
It was Pickford herself who decided to give prints of her films to the Library of Congress to preserve, with the hope that they would be of interest and scientific value for future generations in showing the development of the motion picture art and science. In January of 1979, just before her death, she placed her substantial collection of photographs, documents and other memorabilia at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences library to establish The Mary Pickford Collection for use by students and scholars. In 1983, the Mary Pickford Foundation granted money as well as documents, scrapbooks, materials and memorabilia to the Academy’s Mary Pickford Collection.
In 1997, the current generation of directors was appointed to the Board by the original directors named by Mary in her will. The current directors have increased donations for education and maintained endowments at more than ten universities and colleges. Every year, over two dozen students receive scholarships in Mary Pickford’s name.
The Foundation has also continued Mary’s commitment to her fellow professionals in the industry with a $1,200,000 donation in 2001 to the Motion Picture and Television Home, of which Mary was a founder. Mary was also a founder of the Jewish Home for the Aging, to which the Foundation has donated more than $700,000 over the years.
In 2003, the Foundation funded the Mary Pickford Institute as a vehicle to educate students about Mary Pickford, her legacy and filmmaking. After eight years of funding, the Board decided that it would be more efficient and effective to change its direction away from supporting such third-party organizations and become directly involved in its charitable endeavors. The Foundation decided to transition away from maintaining a localized in-house Pickford library operated by MPI. Instead of documents, books, photographs and other materials being kept at an office available on an appointment basis, the Foundation decided to direct its efforts toward establishing a high-tech worldwide center that will serve as a research and educational tool, library and clearinghouse that is immediately accessible with a few clicks. The Foundation’s first step in this endeavor is its partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Mary Pickford Collection at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick library will be professionally maintained, archived, properly stored and digitized so that when completed, the collection will be instantly available for future generations to study.
Elaina is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with a degree in Film History and Criticism from the University of Texas at Austin. She previously worked with the Pickford Foundation as manager of their library from 1996 to 2001. Her documentaries include Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu, Clara Bow: Discovering the ‘It’ Girl, In Mary’s Shadow: The Story of Jack Pickford, and Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies. Elaina produced, edited, co-wrote and directed the film Rita in 2002 for Turner Classic Movies & Playboy Entertainment, Inc., and Gangland: Bullets Over Hollywood for Starz Encore Entertainment in 2006. In 2008, she produced, co-wrote and edited a documentary on early film censorship, Why Be Good? Sexuality & Censorship in Early Cinema, for Hugh M. Hefner and Playboy Entertainment, Inc. Clara Bow: Discovering the ‘It’ Girl won the gold Telly Award in 2000, and Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies won an Aurora Award in 2002.
Cari is the award-winning author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood and four other non-fiction books including her latest, Joseph P. Kennedy Presents: His Hollywood Years. She is the only person to twice be named an Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Scholar. She has also written and produced documentaries and appeared in many as a film historian including Turner Classic Movie’s Moguls and Movie Stars and Mark Cousin’s The Story of Film. She writes for Vanity Fair and is a judge for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards.