In the early twentieth century, Mary Pickford was the most famous woman in the world. Her screen popularity from such films as Tess of the Storm Country (1914) and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917) made her "America's sweetheart," but she was also a shrewd businesswoman who cofounded United Artists (1919) and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (1927).
Born Gladys Smith in Toronto, she came to the United States with her family in 1901. She worked with Broadway impresario David Belasco-who changed her name to Mary Pickford-and also began appearing in movies. From 1913 to 1919, she was the leading female star of silent films.
Pickford led the Hollywood war effort during World War I, selling bonds and making such films as Johanna Enlists (1918). An honorary colonel, she exhorted departing troops: "Don't come back 'til you've taken the germ out of Germany!"