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Thread: Olive Thomas Pickford 1894-1920

  1. #1
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    Olive Thomas Pickford 1894-1920

    [SIZE=3]OLIVE THOMAS[/SIZE] had been born (OLIVETTA DUFFY) in working class Charleroi, Pennsylvania which is south of Pittsburgh in 1894. Her childhood was not pleasant and consisted of the harsh realitites of industrial mills and paycheck to paycheck living. At 16 she quit school and married (a) BERNIE THOMAS but the marriage was not to last and they divorced within 2 years.

    A very pretty girl, OLIVE as her family and friends called her decided to try her luck in New York City. She found a position working in a department store. Some of her co-workers to enter a beauty contest for New York City's Most Beautiful Girl which she did. OLIVE won the contest ! This lucky turn and the coverage that followed brought her to the attention of the great FLORENZ ZIEGFELD who cast her in his 'Follies'. Men were mesmerized by her dazzling beauty. Illustrator VARGAS did an infamous nude of the lovely young woman.

    After several years with ZIEGFELD, with whom she was rumored to have been his mistress, she was signed to a motion picture studio contract with the long since defunct TRIANGLE PICTURES. Once in Hollywood OLIVE' new career in film took off fast. She married actor JACK PICKFORD 5 days after her 22 birthday. JACK, whose sister was the famous MARY PICKFORD, was a bigger name than his young bride, but within the next few years, hers would surpass his. OLIVE made 24 movies between 1916 & 1920.

    In late August of 1920 she sailed to Europe. Accounts vary as to whether her husband sailed with her or was to meet her later in Paris. She was staying at the extremely chic HOTEL CRILLON. (The hotel is (now) near 200 years old & rooms start at about $ 800. a night for their most modest accommodations.) Rumors say that she was frequenting some very rough areas. The purported reason ? OLIVE, so the rumor goes was trying to score heroin for her husband JACK.

    On September 5th, a hotel employee entered her suite and found her naked body lying on a sable cape. She had swallowed a bottle of mercury bichloride. Rushed to the hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine where she died on September 10, 1920. Everything, as far as the public knew was going well for the couple which is why her death came as such a tragedy. The family tried to claim that her death had been an accident; that OLIVE had gone into her darkened bathroom and mistakenly consumed the mercury. (What was she doing with mercury bichloride anyway ? One story is that it was JACK' prescribed medicine for veneral disease. ). Sister in law MARY PICKFORD used her considerable power to squelch any & all possible stories on the rumor mill, particularly where her brother's character was concerned. OLIVE was interred in the PICKFORD masoleum in the Bronx, New York. JACK would marry two more times; his 2nd marriage to the equally tragic MARILYN MILLER. Only a dozen years later, JACK would die in Janurary 1933 at the age of 36.

    At an auction consisting of OLIVE' personal effects, a majority were bid on (& won) by her friend, actress MABEL NORMAND. They say that OLIVE'S ghost haunts the great NEW AMSTERDAM THEATER on New York' Great White Way...................

  2. #2
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    If it were true that she swallowed the mercury and it was prescribed for a veneral disease, then maybe it was swallowed "purposely" as some sort of symbol to her husband, like for cheating on her and catching this disease, the humiliation!!!!!..Just a thought

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    Thank you for this story. She was very attractive, too. I bet there are LOTS of stories from the early days of Hollywood that we'll never know about. It was such a decadent time (and place).

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    Wow Kelt, you always have the most interesting posts (although all your colors kill me)

    She was so beautiful and I had never heard of her. Tragic

    Thank you!!!
    "I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful."
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    Great story..I love hearing stories of Old Hollywood!
    Zombie kitteh is Hungry!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kareika View Post
    Wow Kelt, you always have the most interesting posts (although all your colors kill me)

    I was thinking the same thing too ... makes my eyes go insane!!!

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    This is another I have never heard about. Thank you for your colorful posts about these interesting people.

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    my god she was gorgeous!!!~

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    There is another version of what happened to her and in it Jack was with her and they had been out that night drinking came back to the hotel and she accidently swallowed poision thinking it was something else the french lettering confused her...also the other version said she hung on before dying.. and was in agony...The entire story has always seemed shady to me....I think allot of people covered whatever really happened to this poor girl. Jack was a drug addict thats for sure and his sister could ceratinly hush anything she wanted hushed.

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    She sure was a lovely woman, and the story does seem awfully shady. If she had been hanging out trying to score in the worst parts of Paris, Lord knows what could have happened. Bless her heart.
    GR6-1890
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    I love this kind of stuff, this is what the threads should be.............thanks I bet she didn't just kill herself, she had it rough in her early life and climb out of it.

    Member since 10/10/07

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    I had never heard of her but this is a very interesting story ..thanks for sharing!!

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    For some reason I heard that she had died of heroin abuse. Go figure.......... I also know back then alot of people died of drugs.

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    This is another strange story. I rented the dvd The Flapper and it comes with a fairly informative documentary about her awhile back. They sort of glossed certain things over, but yeah, her death makes no sense. I've only recently read that she was on heroin. I tend to not believe that because she lingered for a couple of days. I've read different accounts that the poison blinded her and basically dissolved her vocal cords (ick) but she lived a few days after. I don't know if that's possible with an OD.

    For the record, Jack Pickford has syphilis. What I don't understand is if he had the medicine, how exactly was he suppose to take it? If it killed you when you consumed it internally, what the hell was it used for?

    All those silent movie stars who died young are so mysterious and even more interesting. I guess it's because alot of their work is lost and we never heard their voice.

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    Kelt I have to admire your work and research on these threads. You can find out alot more than we can find here on the internet. You are a walking encyclopedia of movie star knowledge.

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    http://www.assumption.edu/ahc/1920s/...s/default.html

    I have attached a great link with articles about Olive. Jack was indeed prescribed Mercury for his Syphillus (sp). I thought it funny that the Government posted this saying with regards to promoting safer sex among troops during WWI- "One night with Venus means years with Mercury"

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    Yeah I remeber thinking she had lingered on for a while..very shady I wonder what really happened??

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    Olive Thomas, Mary Pickford's sister in law

    Olive Thomas was married to Jack Pickford, Mary Pickford's brother.





    As a result of her newfound fame, she signed with International Film Company as the leading lady in the Harry Fox movies.[2] Thomas went on to appear in more than twenty Hollywood films over the next four years. She made her debut under her married name, "Olive Thomas", in the film A Girl Like That. Thomas then appeared in her final short of Beatrice Fairfax.

    Nigel Barrie and Olive Thomas in the 1916 film serial Beatrice Fairfax


    In 1917, Thomas moved to Triangle Pictures where she worked with Thomas Ince.[3] Shortly after, news broke of her engagement to Jack Pickford, whom she had actually married a year prior. Of her marriage, Thomas said, ""I didn't want people to say that I'm succeeding because of the Pickford name."[2] During her time with Triangle, Thomas was referred to as The Triangle Star.[2] Thomas' role as Betty in 1917's Madcap Madge proved one of her most successful. It would be three more years before she did another 'teenager' role.
    In December 1918, Thomas was persuaded by Myron Selznick to sign with Selznick Pictures Company. She hoped for more serious roles, believing that with her husband signed to the same company, she would have more influence. She soon became the first Selznick star and created the image of the "baby vamp".[2]
    In 1920, Thomas once again played a teenager in the Frances Marion movie The Flapper. In a time when actors were defined by the type of role they played, Thomas felt she had no film type, saying, "But I want to create a certain role, you see Mary is the kid in pictures; Norma does drama; Constance is the flippant, flighty wife; Dorothy the hoyden; Nazimova is exotic and steeped in mystery, my Jack does boys, while I--I--why don't you see, I am just nothing at all!"[2]
    Thomas was the first actress to be described by the term flapper, preceding the likes of Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, and Joan Crawford.[1] She would go on to play the flapper role in her final films including A Youthful Folly and her final film Everybody's Sweetheart. The formula proved successful and by the time of her death, Thomas was making $3,000 a week.[2]
    [


    In an interview in June 1919, Thomas said of death, "I think that you die when your time comes and not until then. I feel the same about other things as I do about death. I don't think you can change anything that is going to happen to you any more than you can change anything that has happened to you. That's why I never worry, and that is why I don't think people should get conceited and think themselves better than others."[2]
    For many years, the Pickfords had intended to vacation together. Both Pickford and Thomas were constantly traveling and had little time to spend together. With their marriage on the rocks, the couple decided to take a second honeymoon.[2] In August 1920, the pair headed for Paris, France, hoping to combine a vacation with some film preparations.
    On the night of September 9, 1920, the Pickfords went out for a night of entertainment and partying at the famous bistros in the Montparnasse Quarter of Paris. Returning to their room in the Hotel Ritz around 3:00 a.m., Pickford either fell asleep or was outside the room for a final round of drugs. It was rumored that Thomas may have taken cocaine that night though it was never proved. An intoxicated and tired Thomas accidentally ingested a large dose of mercury bichloride, which had been prescribed for her husband's chronic syphilis. She had either thought the flask contained drinking water or sleeping pills; accounts vary. The label was in French which may have added to the confusion. She screamed, "Oh, my God!", and Pickford ran to pick her up in his arms. However, it was too late, she had already ingested a lethal dose.[4] She was taken to the American Hospital in the Paris suburb of Neuilly, where Pickford, together with her former in-law Owen Moore, remained at her side until she succumbed to the poison a few days later. Soon after her death, rumors began that she tried to commit suicide or had been murdered. A police investigation followed as well as an autopsy, and Thomas' death was ruled accidental.[2]

  19. #19
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    I've never heard of her but she was pretty.

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    The way she died was so bizarre. I have a hard time believing it was accidental. I think it was likely suicide.

  21. #21
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    We covered her last fall...........

    http://www.findadeath.com/forum/show...t=olive+thomas
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    very interesting story!
    pull the string!

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    New one on me! Interesting!

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    Great work Kelt, I love the colour codes it puts things in place for me!
    She was very beautiful and her beauty really standsup to todays standards!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagneticElectric View Post
    This is another strange story. I rented the dvd The Flapper and it comes with a fairly informative documentary about her awhile back. They sort of glossed certain things over, but yeah, her death makes no sense. I've only recently read that she was on heroin. I tend to not believe that because she lingered for a couple of days. I've read different accounts that the poison blinded her and basically dissolved her vocal cords (ick) but she lived a few days after. I don't know if that's possible with an OD.

    For the record, Jack Pickford has syphilis. What I don't understand is if he had the medicine, how exactly was he suppose to take it? If it killed you when you consumed it internally, what the hell was it used for?

    All those silent movie stars who died young are so mysterious and even more interesting. I guess it's because alot of their work is lost and we never heard their voice.

    I'm not sure either, but they did take some type of mercury mixture for syphilis...it blackened the teeth.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagneticElectric View Post

    For the record, Jack Pickford has syphilis. What I don't understand is if he had the medicine, how exactly was he suppose to take it? If it killed you when you consumed it internally, what the hell was it used for?
    She took too much and suffered an overdose of mercury. Almost all drugs (herbal and pharmaceutical) are fatal if you take too much.

  27. #27
    She was beautiful. That is so sad that she died in that manner.
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    She was very beautiful and so very young.

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    I learn so much in here... it´s great!! What a beautiful woman... and what a sad story. Does any of you now, if any of her movies are available on dvd, or have they all been lost?

    Love is the answer - and you know that for sure.

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    Awesome post! Thanks so much.
    "A dreaded sunny day, so I'll meet you at the cemetry gates..." - The Smiths

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    She is one of my favourite actress death stories from the silent years of Hollywood.

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    I grew up in South Western PA near Olive's birthplace. She was a beauty no doubt about it. The mercury was Jack's to treat his chronic Syphillis. I really don't know why she did it... I think her and Jack where both Heroin Addicts maybe it was her addictions that caught up with her but it was a waste!

  34. #34
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    I read somewhere there is a film being made about her. I always thought that she swallowed the mercury by mistake. She was a very heavy drinker, smashing up cars and the whole thing. They all were. I was under the impression she was wasted and mixed it up with something else but who knows....

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    Olive Thomas: The Most Beautiful Girl in the World (2003)

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379914/

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    Just stunning!
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    I grew up in Charleroi... Way after her days, but have been interested in her since reading about her on line, Tragic ending to such a young life.

    I have never been lucky enough to find one of her movies.
    Last edited by cloudddae; 04-18-2011 at 10:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AnneBoleyn View Post
    Does any of you now, if any of her movies are available on dvd, or have they all been lost?

    Amazon has several of her films on DVD.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no...thomas&x=0&y=0

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    I think the only movie of hers that is currently available on DVD is The Flapper. I have it (along with the accompanying documentary "Everybody's Sweetheart") and it's not really that bad. Silent movies take a bit of getting used to, but it's rather sweet and entertaining.
    "You live alone, creating your life as you go." - Edie Sedgwick

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    Thanks for the link, Ludigan.

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    Here's a link to the movie 'The Flapper' on archive.org. It's out of copyright and in the public domain now. Enjoy!

    http://www.archive.org/details/The_Flapper

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    Quote Originally Posted by orionova View Post
    Here's a link to the movie 'The Flapper' on archive.org. It's out of copyright and in the public domain now. Enjoy!

    http://www.archive.org/details/The_Flapper
    Thank you, orionova ! Awesome find.

  43. #43

    What really happened to Olive Thomas?

    Check out this fantastic article on Olive Thomas' death by Hollywood historian Steve Vaught:

    http://paradiseleased.wordpress.com/...ford-part-iii/

    He covers all the theories (like, she took Jack's syphilis medicine by accident, or Jack poisoned her, or she committed suicide, etc.) and dispels the rumors. Plus there are tons of great photos!

    Excerpt:

    So from that horrific tragedy of long ago I believe a terrible injustice has been done to both Olive Thomas and Jack Pickford, particularly to Jack. The death of a beautiful young person in a stupid, but ghastly accident and the antics of a couple of immature, party-loving kids has been twisted into a cesspool of depravity by people who werenâ??t there and without an iota of hard evidence, but only speculation, rumors and gossip to back them up, have found them guilty and damned them to hell without a trial.

  44. #44

    Olive and Jack documentary

    Somebody just posted this on YouTube a few days ago. Part 1 of an amateur but surprisingly well-done documentary about Olive and Jack Pickford. Has great photos and film clips of them. Definitely check it out! There will be a part 2 added in a few weeks.


  45. #45
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    isn't she like the first story in hollywood babylon?

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    She looked so cute and so young. I've heard of her before from Hollywood Bios. The rumor was put out there that it was assumed she commited suicide, rather than admit the truth of what really happened...

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    http://www.crazydaysandnights.net/

    A blind item is now saying she was murdered by Jack Pickford.

    "This actress was probably B list back in the day but she married into an A++ list Hollywood family. Traces of that A list family are everywhere still today throughout Beverly Hills and portions of their life are tour stops for the buses. Anyway, this actress caught her husband cheating on her for the millionth time and already had a life threatening STD she caught from him. They got into a fight and he poisoned her. He paid off police and walked away with nothing but his infected peen and a new girlfriend a few days later.

    Olive Thomas/Jack Pickford"

    I'm pretty sure I read that he wasn't actually in Paris when she took ill, but thats the thing about blind items, lack of evidence/facts is no reason not to put it out there.
    Morgan

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    Today's the 100th Deathiversary of Olive, yesterday being the 99th Deathiversary of Virginia Rappe. Olive was good fodder for the tabloid press for one year until Virginia died, which resulted in Roscoe Arbuckle being charged in her death, etc. Olive's buried in the Bronx in a vault labelled "Pickford". Mary's dad is buried in Canada and the rest of the family (Mary, her mother, sister and brother) are all buried in California. Wonder if Olive's fateful hotel room at the Ritz is still available ? Same thing applies to Virginia - is room 1219 of the St Francis Hotel in San Fran still available ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoopy View Post
    Great story..I love hearing stories of Old Hollywood!
    I so enjoy stories about old Hollywood.
    Carolyn(1958-2009) always in my heart.

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