Florence Lawrence, the Biograph Girl

America’s First Movie Star

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About the Book

Florence Lawrence’s film career began just as the cinema was being born. She recognized the wonder and appeal of the fledgling industry, and her early work with the Vitagraph company gained her a legion of fans and a reputation as a willing and hard working actress. In 1908 she appeared in Romeo and Juliet—America’s very first screen Juliet. By 1909, she was working steadily for the Biograph studio–she was dubbed “the Biograph girl”—and was being praised for her “personal attractions” and “very fine dramatic ability.” But just as Lawrence was the first movie star in the industry, she was also one of the first to be undone by it. Hindered by setbacks, grueling work schedules, self-imposed retirements, three marriages, repeatedly unsuccessful comeback attempts, Lawrence finally committed suicide in 1938.
This impressively researched piece of film history represents the first full-length biography of Florence Lawrence, also called “The Girl of a Thousand Faces.” Among the photographs are some never before published. A complete filmography of Lawrence’s entire career is provided. A summary chapter includes comments from various critics and historians, addressing how Lawrence is important to film history.

About the Author(s)

Journalist and film researcher Kelly R. Brown lives in Statesville, North Carolina.

Bibliographic Details

Kelly R. Brown
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 230
Bibliographic Info: 21 photos, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2007 [1999]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3089-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1317-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      xi

Prologue       xiii

1. Child of Canada      1

2. Moving and Shaking      13

3. A New Family      23

4. Laemmle’s Imp      39

5. St. Louis      47

6. Moving On      59

7. Independence      73

8. Among the Roses      85

9. Comeback Again      97

10. And Again      113

11. The Quiet Years      127

12. Her Last Part      139

13. Florence Who?      151

Filmography      159

Notes      181

Bibliography      199

Index      203

Book Reviews & Awards

Finalist, Theatre Library Association Award
“a lively and compelling story of an equally lively and compelling, but sidelined, celebrity…a splendidly seamless narrative…intelligent, charming and multifaceted volume…an extensive filmography…highly recommended”—Choice; “Brown’s careful examination of Lawrence is one of the most prominent advantages of this first-ever biography. With no previous biographical reference, aside from Lawrence’s own writings, Brown manages to weave together a comprehensive life story. Brown is to be commended for a tireless research effort”—The Midnight Palace; “excellent”—The Slide Area; “McFarland & Company’s film-related books are renowned for their thorough research, and author Kelly R. Brown is to be lauded for maintaining McFarland’s standards…the definitive—as well as the only—comprehensive biography of Lawrence…uses every possible shred of information to shed light on Lawrence’s mostly forgotten life and career”—Winston-Salem Journal; “Brown provides a close look at an era in American filmmaking that most people never even consider, and a sympathetic, realistic account of an actress who was touched by the sprouting of the American cinematic dream-machine fantasy”—The Hamilton Spectator; “a well-researched, readable biography”—ForeWord Magazine; “highly readable…paints a vivid portrait of the first actress to receive on-screen credit for her work…highly recommended”—The Lloyd Herald; “this biography has truly benefited the history of motion pictures…a must read”—The Silents Majority; “important”—The Charlotte Observer; “well-researched study…definitely a first-prize find”—Film & History.