Jack Pickford (John Carl Smith)
Photos with Jack Pickford
BiographyToronto, Ontario, Canada
Nepotism certainly has had its advantages in Hollywood, none more so than in the film career of Jack Pickford, whose famous older sis, "America's Sweetheart" Mary Pickford, saw to it that Jack had all the advantages her star weight could muster. Born in Toronto, Canada, in 1896, Jack was prompted by his actress/mother, Charlotte Smith, to follow Mary into show business. As a child actor on stage, he quickly developed into a colorful juvenile player. It was Mary who made him a fixture with Biograph pictures starting in 1909 at the age of 13. Read more... First National in 1917, one of her stipulations was that Jack receive a lucrative contract as well. However, the boy just couldn't stay out of trouble no matter what or where he was. A stint in the navy proved disastrous when Jack was accused of accepting bribes from rich men to help them stay out of front-line action. With the help of his family, he was exonerated--- regardless, he received a general discharge, which was more than he deserved. Despite limited acting talent, Jack found boy-next-door success as Pip in Great Expectations (1917) and the title hero Tom Sawyer (1917), and went on to become a fairly popular star on his own. He even produced several of his own films. Some of his better films during this time included The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come (1920), The Man Who Had Everything (1920) and Waking Up the Town (1925), but a taste for the high life soon took over. A ne'er-do-well playboy and carouser, he aroused more public interest because of his scandalous off-camera life than in the light romantic films he appeared in. He picked up alcohol, drug and gambling addictions to accompany his partying lifestyle. First wife actress Olive Thomas died after accidentally consuming mercury bichloride in Paris in 1920 after only four years of marriage, and his next two marriages-- to Broadway musical star Marilyn Miller and minor actress Mary Mulhern--would also end disastrously. All three wives were Ziegfeld girls at one time. By the late 1920s Jack was completely undependable and, with the advent of sound, his career ground to a screeching halt, despite ever-faithful Mary's continued attempts to rescue it. Jack's health deteriorated considerably after this letdown, with frequent bouts of syphilis adding to the complications of his long term substance abuse. He died young at 36. The cause was listed as "progressive multiple neuritis", but it was almost certainly precipitated by his chronic alcoholism-- a tragic and seemingly unnecessary end for a boy who chose to tarnish the silver platter readily handed to him.