This biography is comprehensive without being dry and "scholarly." It reads like a novel, and it is a surprisingly even-handed biography, illuminating Miss Pickford's genius while showing us her not-so-attractive side. Time is spent on the alcoholism that was a prominent part of the last half of her life, and on her fights with family, including her three husbands, her two adopted children and the friendships she made, cultivated or ruined along the way.
A good deal of time is also spent on how United Artists worked in its inception, why the founders thought that such a company was necessary and on the politics inside the company throughout its history.
Buddy Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. were still around when this book was being researched and written, and they, along with numerous others, seem to have shared insights that help us understand the lady, and Fairbanks sheds some light on her complex and lasting love with his father - they continued to be very close up until his death. This may be one of the last things that Fairbanks and Rogers contributed to, and if this is how they would be remembered, its not a bad thing.
If you are interested not only in her films (which run far afield of just the "Little Mary" whom we all have heard about and seen), and for an interesting, highly readable overview of silent film in general, this biography is a must read. I am personally glad I bought it for myself, rather than borrowing it from the library (as I do with many books), because as I learn more about the era and see more of her films, I'm sure I'm going to want to go back to it again (probably more than once).
This report prepared by Graceann Maciolek