Posts Tagged ‘Mary Pickford’

Douglas Fairbanks last will and testament

Friday, July 9th, 2010


Douglas Fairbanks wills million to his widow





By Allan R. Ellenberger


Douglas Fairbanks died at his Santa Monica beach house on December 12, 1939. When his will was probated less than a month later, it was learned that the actor made no mention of his former wife, Mary Pickford, bequeathing half his estate, up to $1,000,000, to his widow, the former Lady Sylvia Ashley of England. In his will, Fairbanks wrote:


“I respectfully request my beloved wife to devise and bequeath by her last will and testament whatever portion of said property that she receives by virtue of this instrument to such of my heirs and next of kin and for such charitable or education or patriotic purposes as she may decide in her discretion.”


Fairbanks added, however, he did not mean to place any restrictions upon her final disposition of the legacy.


The will was executed on November 2, 1936, shortly after Fairbanks married Lady Ashley. A considerable part of his property was in United Artists, film producing concern in which Mary Pickford was a partner.


There was some conjecture as to whether a reference to Pickford might have been made in a sealed envelope left with the will, addressed to the actors son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Lawyers said it concerned a $50,000 bequest to his son.


Regarding the letter, Fairbanks had written by hand in the will a bequest of an additional 1/10 of property to his son requesting him to distribute the money “to the people and in the proportion as I advise him by the letter addressed to him to be found with this will.”


The will, which covered 13 typewritten pages, named as executors the Guaranty Trust Co. of New York, which filed the document, and the Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association of Los Angeles.


Among his bequests were $10,000 to the Motion Picture Actors’ Relief Fund of Los Angeles, to be known as the “Douglas Fairbanks Fund;” $10,000 to Charles L. Lewis; $37,500 in a trust fund to Kenneth Davenport of Hollywood and $37,500 to a cousin, Mrs. Adelaide Crombie of Los Angeles.


After these specific bequests, the will disposed of the actor’s property in part as follows:


Twenty-fortieths of the residue to his wife, not to exceed $1,000,000; 12/40 to his son, not to exceed $600,000; 2/40 to his brother, Robert Fairbanks, not to exceed $100,000. Another brother, Norris Wilcox of New York City, also received 1/40 or a sum not to exceed $50,000.


Four nieces – Flobelle Burden, Mary Margaret Chappellett, Letitia Fairbanks and Lucille Fairbanks – also shared in the estate. A trust fund of one-fortieth of the residue, not to exceed $50,000, was provided for each.


Fairbanks provided finally that after the bequests are made and the residue divided among his wife and the others who receive their shares in 40ths, all other property remaining be equally divided between his wife and son.


An affidavit by his lawyer said that Fairbanks owned all the outstanding stock of the Elton Corp., which in turn owned one-fifth of the outstanding capital stock of United Artists Corp. The shares of the United Artists Corp., representing this ownership, are in the possession of the Guaranty Trust Co. which is one of the largest assets of the estate, and is also trustee of a fund of more than $700,000 which, under the will, passes to the estate. The Bankers Trust Co. is also trustee of a fund of about $500,000 which likewise passes to the estate. There were other valuable properties within New York state, including tangible personal properties.


Once the will was probated, it was disclosed in a petition that Douglas Fairbanks left a net estate of $2,318,651.10 (gross valuation of $2,742,060.62) and the executor, Guaranty Trust Co., was granted to exempt the estate from taxes in New York on the grounds that the actor was a resident of California.


Total California assets were listed as $1,301,879.58, New York assets at $1,247,452.80, and Pennsylvania assets at $192,728.24. Fairbanks California property consisted of bank accounts and funds held by the Escondido Orange Association amounting to $63,475.44; stocks valued at $500,232.95; bonds, $76,221.37 and the balance in realty holdings in Hollywood, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Venice, Westwood and Glendale.


The will did not mention Fairbanks first wife, the former Beth Sully, the mother of his son, who at the time was married to musical comedy actor, Jack Whiting. Also not mentioned was his second wife, ‘America’s Sweetheart,’ Mary Pickford.



Belle Bennett profile

Saturday, May 1st, 2010


Belle Bennett, mother of the screen





By Allan R. Ellenberger


Belle Bennett is not a name that is well remembered today. Yet she had a successful stage and film career and is best known for her “mother” roles, in particular the 1925 silent film classic, Stella Dallas.


Belle Bennett achieved stardom beginning with a girlhood career in the circus. She was born on April 22, 1892 in Milaca, Minnesota, the daughter of circus owners, William and Hazel Bennett. Her father, known as Billie, was one of the pioneer showmen of the circus, who arrived in the United States in 1898 and established himself in St. Paul, Minnesota. His wife, and later Belle, played with him in his stock company. Belle technically began her stage career when her mother carried her on the stage as the baby of The Fatal Wedding. Her mother recalled that she proved to be a good trouper and did not interrupt a single scene by crying.


Belle first appeared before the public at the age of 13 as a trapeze performer in her father’s circus. Later she became a member of a stock company, then went to Broadway and played in productions for David Belasco.


In 1916 she came to Culver City and signed a contract to make westerns for the Triangle Company. In her early films, Belle supported such stars as Alma Rubens, Gloria Swanson and Olive Borden. When Triangle closed, Belle returned to the stage with the Alcazar Stock Company of San Francisco.


Actress Marjorie Rambeau encouraged Belle to seek a place on Broadway and deluged A.H. Woods with letters and newspaper clippings until the producer wired her to come east. Belle made her debut on Broadway in Happy Go Lucky, substituting for Muriel Martin Harvey.  Other plays for Woods included Lawful Larceny, replacing Margaret Lawrence; The Demi Virgin, substituting for Hazel Dawn, and The Wandering Jew, in which she won the favor of Broadway audiences in her own right.


Belle was married three times: her first husband was Jack Oaker a sailor at the San Pedro submarine base. Her second husband was William Macy, who was the father of her two sons, William and Theodore. She divorced Macy and married director Fred Windermere in 1924.


Belle’s greatest success was in films. She appeared in numerous inconsequential film roles over a period of years until 1925 when she was among seventy-three actresses up for the leading role in Samuel Goldwyn’s production of Stella Dallas.   


A few days before a decision was to be made, Belle’s sixteen year-old son William was badly hurt in a scuffle with some other boys. The injury was at first not thought to be serious, but when he was taken to the hospital his condition grew gradually worse. During that brief time he expressed hope that his mother would be chosen for the part of Stella. He said he did not see how they could think of anyone else. Sadly William did not recover from his injuries and he ultimately died. The following day Belle was told that she had received the part.


The first few days of filming were difficult but she found solace in her friendship with Lois Moran, who played her daughter in the film. Until then Belle had told people that William was her brother. The reason, she said afterward, was that she wanted to hide her age from the studios, for she had always appeared as a woman of around 24, ten years younger than her real age.





Stella Dallas was a resounding success and Belle received stunning reviews for her role. The New York Times said that Belle “gave such a remarkable performance as Stella that she seems to live through the part…”


The “mother” role in Stella Dallas (later played in the remake by Barbara Stanwyck) typed her for the remainder of her career. Subsequently she appeared in Mother Machree (1928), Battle of the Sexes (1928), The Iron Mask (1929) and Courage (1930).  


In early 1930, Belle suffered a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with general carcinomatosis, a form of cancer. She recovered but only appeared in three films over the next two years. In the summer of 1932, taking a break from films, Belle went on an extended vaudeville tour. While appearing in Philadelphia she collapsed on stage, but was revived and insisted on “carrying on” in the best theatrical tradition. The effort aggravated her condition and she was sent to Harrisburg hospital for blood transfusions which enabled her to regain her strength.


However in September her condition worsened and she was rushed from New York by plane to Hollywood, where she was admitted to Cedars of Lebanon hospital.  Apprised of the severity of her condition, her husband returned from New York.


On several occasions during the next two months, she was reported near death, but always rallied and continued to fight; close friends commented that she had the will to live. Yet, on November 4, 1932, her fight ended when she died at 9:15 p.m. The only person with her at the end was her son Theodore; her husband had only just left the room shortly before she passed. Belle Bennett was only 40 years old.


On November 6 her funeral was held at Pierce Brothers Mortuary, her body lay in a pure white coffin, banked with a vari-colored spread of flowers, while relatives and intimate friends filled the pews of the chapel. The service was conducted under the auspices of Christian Science, including a reading of selections from the Psalms and the Scripture and the committal of the soul to the care of the Lord.


For two minutes the mourners bowed their heads in silent prayer. John Vale, who once acted on stage with Belle a decade earlier, was the soloist, rendering “Shepherd Show Me How to Go,” and “Oh, Gentle Presence,” both authored by Mary Baker Eddy.


Then the congregation joined the reader in oral rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. There was no eulogy and the services over, the mourners filed past the bier. Among those who attended were Mary Pickford, for years a close friend of Belle’s, Sidney Olcott, one time her director, and Jean Hersholt, Thelma Todd (whose own funeral would be held in the same chapel in less than three years), Norma Shearer, Zasu Pitts, Russell Simpson and Joe E. Brown. Later that day, Belle Bennett was interred at Valhalla Cemetery in Burbank.


The grave of Belle Bennett at Valhalla Cemetery – Block H, Section 8351, Grave 6 (Allan R. Ellenberger photo)



Belle left no will and it was later revealed that her estate was valued at less than $5,000, which was a surprise considering that she had at one time been a wealthy woman. Her husband and son shared the estate.



Click below for a brief scene from the 1929 silent adventure film, “The Iron Mask”, featuring Belle Bennett as the Queen Mother, discovering Gordon Thorpe as her long-lost son (the evil twin).






House Peters’ Beginnings

Monday, January 25th, 2010


House Peters



House Peters is not a name that many remember today. Peters, a handsome stage actor, moved to the screen in 1913 eventually making more than 50 films over 40 years. In 1963 he told a reporter how he started in the business. Peters died at the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills, California, in 1967 and his ashes were spread in the Pacific Ocean. 


By House Peters


“Gardening is my hobby. I read a lot too, but my eyesight is getting bad. I started life as Robert House Peters, and on the stage I was billed simply, R. H. Peters.


“But after I was hired by Adolph Zukor for motion picture work around 1914, he suggested I change my name. Zukor thought too many actors of the day were named Robertes and so to distinquish me from the rest he insisted that I use the name House Peters.


“I didn’t care particularly — not, that is, until an ingenue passed me on the lot and greeted me: ‘Good morning, Mr. Bungalow,’ she said.


“I was born in Bristol, England in the Thunderbolt Inn, which was owned by my father. My father was a publican and, no doubt, a sinner. I travelled the world acting on stages in such divergent areas as South Africa and Australia. When I reached New York, I was hired to play the part of ‘silly Englishman’ in a vaudeville sketch about a baseball hero named Swat Mulligan.


“I had only a few minutes to study my lines before I went on stage in the theater at New Rochelle. The lines of the skit called for the other actors to chorus, ‘Where’s Swats?’


“I was supposed to reply, ‘He’s gone to first base,’ but I forgot the line and said instead, ‘He’s gone to the corner.’ The audience roared. The line was left in the skit that way from then on. Boseman Bulgar, who had written the skit told me, ‘I wish I had thought of that line.’


“After Zukor hired me, I had no work assignments for four weeks. I was ashamed to go down the fifth week and pick up my check. But soon after that I was starred opposite Mary Pickford in In the Bishop’s Carriage (1913), which was filmed in New York.”



The Mystery of Life?

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009


Ah, Sweet ‘Mystery of Life’


Mystery of Life-then


THE MYSTERY OF LIFE is the largest piece of statuary in Forest Lawn Memorial Park — measuring over 17 feet in width and containing 22 life size figures. Critics regard this statur, the workd of Ernesto Gazzeri, one fo the world’s greatest sculptural masterpieces. The sculptor has chosen to leave the interpretation to each individual observer.  (from the back of the post card circa 1930s)


Mystery of Life


THE MYSTERY OF LIFE monument as it looks today. The above description must have been before they installed the reproduction of Michelangelo’s  “David” in the courtyard adjoining this garden.


The following is Forest Lawn’s religious interpretation of The Mystery of Life statue taken from a pictorial catalogue the cemetery published in 1944:




“Around the mystic Stream of Life we see grouped eighteen persons typifying many walks and stations in life. First we see…”


1.  – a boy, who is astonished at the miracle that has happened in his hand — one moment, an unbroken egg; the next moment, a chick, teeming with life. “Why?” he asks. “How does it happen? What is the answer to this Mystery of Life?” He questions…

2.  – his aged grandmother, who, he reasons, knows everything. But we see her resigned in the face of the inexplicable. Then we see…

3 and 4.  – the lovers, who believe they have found the answer to the mystery in their first kiss.

5. – the sweet girl graduate, lost in dreams, with no place as yet in her thoughts for a serious questioning of Life’s destiny.

6.  – the scientist, troubled because all his learnings, all his searchings, have not solved the mystery.

7 and 8.  – the mother, who finds the answer in the babe at her breast.

9, 10, 11, 12, 13.  – the happy family group, not really perturbed by the mystery, although even they seem to ask: “Why do the doves mate?”

14.  the learned philosopher, scratching his puzzled head in vain.

15 and 16.  – the monk and the nun, comforted and secure, confident that they have found the answer in their religion.

17.  – the atheist, the fool, who grinningly cares not at all, while

18.  – the stoic, sits in silent awe and comtemplation of that which he believes he knows but cannot explain or understand.


And, to the left of this sculpture is a private garden containing the earthly remains of Mary Pickford (1893-1979), Warner Baxter (1891-1951), Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957), evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman (1907-1976), Earl Carrol (1893-1948) and his girlfriend Beryl Wallace (1910-1948) and Joan Crawford’s ‘Mommie Dearest’ — Anna Le Sueur (1884-1958).



Cinecon 45 Wrap-up

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009


Cinecon 45


 Cinecon 45 poster


Another Cinecon has passed into the California sunset


By Allan R. Ellenberger


Cinecon 45 was presented by the Society of Cinephiles this past Labor Day weekend screening nearly 50 rare silent films and early sound feature films as well as many short subjects at the historic Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. The organization is dedicated to showcasing unusual films that are rarely given public screenings.


The celebrity honorees who attended along with the showing of one of their films included: Denise Darcel, Flame of Calcutta (1953); Adrian Booth (aka Lorna Gray), The Last Bandit (1949) and Stella Stevens, The Silencers (1966) who were honored at Sundays banquet with the Cinecon Career Achievement Award along with composer, Richard M. Sherman, who created the music for the films Mary Poppins (1964), The Jungle Book (1967), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and many more.


Some of the films screened included: The Miracle Man (1932), Hatter’s Castle (1948), Broadway Love (1918), Nightmare (1942), Bardelys the Magnificent (1926) and The Bride Comes Home (1935).


Highlights of the weekend included the North American premiere of The Dawn of Tomorrow (1915), a Mary Pickford film thought to be lost when a tinted nitrate print with Swedish titles turned up in the Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute. Pickford’s costars were David Powell, Forrest Robinson and Robert Cain. The film was dedicated to Robert Cushman, photo archivist of the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who recently passed away.


Turn to the Right (1922), a Rex Ingram film, was recently restored by the George Eastman House. Made following two of the director’s epics, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and The Conquering Power (1921), it starred Ingram’s wife, Alice Terry and Jack Mulhall. It was during the making of Turn to the Right that Ingram made one of his greatest discoveries when he cast Ramon Samaniego, later to be known as Ramon Novarro, in his next film, The Prisoner of Zenda (1922)


Cinecon 45 - Robert Dix

Author Robert Dix, son of actor Richard Dix, signed his autobiography, Out of Hollywood. With Dix are Sue Guldin and his wife Mary Ellen 



Author book signings included: Miriam Nelson (My Life Dancing with the Stars); Scott O’Brien (Kay Fancis – I Can’t Wait to be Forgotten and Virginia Bruce – Under My Skin); Robert S. Birchard (Early Universal City); John Gloske (Tough Kid: The Life and Films fo Frankie Darro); Paul Picerni (Steps to Stardon: My Story); Robert Dix (Out of Hollywood) and Michael Hoey (Elvis, Sherlock & Me).



Cinecon 45- Jane Withers

Former child star, Jane Withers 


Celebrity guests at Sunday’s banquet included: Sybil Jason, Lisa Mitchell, Jane Withers, Miriam Nelson, Carla Laemmle, June Foray, Ann Rutherford, Johnny Whitaker, France Nuyen, William Welman, Jr., Robert Dix, and many, many more.


The officers of Cinecon 45, who made this weekend such a success are: Robert S. Birchard, president; Marvin Paige, vice-president; Michael Schlesinger, secretary and Stan Taffel, treasuer.


Cinecon 45- Stella Grace, Jonathan Chin-Davis and Sue Gulden

Cinecon volunteer coordinator, Stella Grace (left) with volunteers Jonathan Chin-Davis and Sue Guldin.


And the volunteer coordinator for Cinecon and my boss for the weekend is the fantastic, one-of-a-kind Rhode Islander, Stella Grace.


For more information on Cinecon, please visit:


Some Cinecon moments


 Carla Laemmle and Marvin Paige

Carla Laemmle (left), niece of Universal founder Carl Laemmle and Cinecon officer, Marvin Paige. Miss Laemmle will celebrate her 100th birthday on October 20.



Cinecon 45- William Wellman Jr.

 William Wellman Jr., son of the famed director



 Cinecon 45- Sybil Jason

 Actress Sybil Jason and archivist Miles Krueger



Cinecon 45- Katherine Orrison and Lisa Mitchell

Author Katherine Orrison (Lionheart in Hollywood: The Autobiography of Henry Wilcoxon) and actress Lisa Mitchell (The Ten Commandments)



 Cinecon 45 - Ann Rutherford

 Gone with the Wind’s Ann Rutherford



 Cinecon 45- Frederick Hodges

 Accompanist Frederick Hodges



Pickford’s Oscars Not For Sale…

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Jury bars auction of Mary Pickford’s Oscar


Mary Pickford Oscar


If heirs want to sell the actress’ 1930 award, they must give the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences the first chance to buy it, for $10, jurors decide.


By Bob Pool
Los Angeles Times


And the Oscar for best Hollywood courtroom drama goes to . . . the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


The golden statuette was awarded Monday by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury, which ruled that if Mary Pickford’s heirs want to sell it, they have to offer it to academy officials for $10 instead of auctioning it off for as much as $800,000.    (Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for more)



Fight Over Mary Pickford’s Oscars…

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Trial over Mary Pickford’s Oscars opens in L.A.



Academy hopes to prevent heirs from selling the famous statuettes

The Associated Press
Wed., Dec. 3, 2008

LOS ANGELES – Jurors deciding the fate of Oscars awarded to silent film star Mary Pickford were treated during the trial’s opening Wednesday to a taste of Hollywood, complete with props, fancy visuals and a little intrigue.


Pickford was part of early Hollywood’s royalty and a founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which presented her two Academy Awards over her lifetime.


Heirs of a woman married to Pickford’s third husband, actor and band leader Buddy Rogers, hope to sell a statuette given to the actress for her performance in 1929’s Coquette. They claim their mother, Beverly Rogers, wanted the Oscar sold and the money donated to charity.


They also claim they are not bound to academy restrictions barring the sale of honorary Oscars awarded later to Pickford and Rogers.


But the academy has sued to stop any sale, claiming that Pickford agreed to rules allowing the organization to purchase the award back for $10. They say they are trying to protect their most important symbol.


Just in case anyone needed a reminder what that is, academy lawyers had placed a pair of Oscar statuettes on a table, the little gold men directly facing the jury box.


To explain the case — and Pickford’s importance to a jury comprised mostly of people too young to remember her work — Wednesday’s opening statements featured a lengthy biography of the actress known as “America’s Sweetheart.”


Brangelina of early Hollywood

Before her marriage to Rogers, Pickford was the wife of Douglas Fairbanks, an influential actor, director and producer.


Academy attorney Chris Tayback likened the pair to a contemporary power couple. “They were comparable to Brad and Angelina,” Tayback said.


To help jurors follow the story of Pickford’s life and the journey of her Oscars, Tayback displayed photos of the actress, images of documents with highlighted passages and even a timeline onto a large screen near jurors. He also played the complete presentation of an honorary Oscar given to Pickford in 1976 in her lavish Beverly Hills home, which was a wedding gift from Fairbanks.


It was that award — and a signature attributed to Pickford on a document agreeing not to sell any of her Oscars — that the academy claims gives it the right to block any sale.


Attorneys for Rogers’ heirs said Wednesday that they will introduce testimony casting doubt on whether Pickford signed that agreement, and contend that Rogers’ heirs aren’t bound to it anyway because they’re not heirs to Pickford’s estate.


Besides, attorney Mark Passin told jurors, the agreement was signed after the 1976 Oscar was given to Pickford. “She already owned the statuette,” he said, adding his contention that made the agreement “unenforceable.”


Passin said Pickford would have likely approved of selling her best-actress Oscar and donating the proceeds to charity.



Mary Pickford Auction…

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008



Featuring the Collection of Mary Pickford Fine & Decorative Art, Furnishings,
Jewelry & Memorabilia


November 22nd and 23rd, 2008 at The Beverly Hilton

Public Exhibition:
Beverly Hills, California
9876 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Monday, November 17 – Friday, November 21
Monday – Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.


Live and Online Televised Auction:
Beverly Hills, California
9876 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90210


Saturday, November 22
Session I, 10:00 a.m. (P.S.T.)
Session II, 2:00 p.m. (P.S.T.)


Sunday, November 23
Session III, 10:00 a.m. (P.S.T.)
Session IV, 2:00 p.m. (P.S.T.)




This historic Hollywood auction features more than 700 lots of fine & decorative art, furnishings, jewelry and memorabilia that graced the home of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks known as “Pickfair”. These remaining items of their estate will be sold without reserve during a live televised and real-time online auction broadcast by Auction Network on November 22nd and 23rd at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. The Pickfair Auction features many furnishings that can be seen in vintage Hollywood press releases and magazine pictorials in publications such as Architectural Digest, House and Garden, and the Los Angeles Times.


Some of the fabled and exotic items coming to the block include a partial Capo Di Monte Napoleon à Josephine dinnerware service (est. $8,000-$10,000), a pair of fine Chinese carved rhinoceros tusks (est. $6,000-$8,000), a Continental silver, gold, enameled and garnet encrusted small coffer which was a gift to Mary Pickford from Grand Duchess Maria of Russia (est. $3,000-$4,000), a Thai damascene silver lotus form covered urn which was a gift to Mary Pickford from the King of Siam (est. $1,000-2,000),and a pair of Adam style paint decorated armchairs (est. $1,500-$2,500).


Highlighting fine art selections in the sale are two oil on canvas still life paintings by Paul de Longpré (est. $20,000-$30,000each), a Philip Mercier painting of children in a pastoral setting (est. $25,000-$35,000) and a landscape attributed to Asher Durand (est. $15,000-$25,000). Among the many personal effects to be sold are two handmade leather bound Pickfair guest books signed by dignitaries and guests between the years of 1926-1962 (est. $8,000-$10,000), a set of Moser gilt and acid etched vanity containers (est. $1,000-$2,000), and a 14k yellow gold compact by Cartier (est. $1,200-$1,800). Pickford jewelry featured in this sale include a 14k yellow gold five charm bracelet with personal engraved messages from Buddy Rogers to Mary Pickford, (est. $1,500-$2,000), a platinum, yellow gold and white diamond ring (est. $800-$1,200), and a 14k yellow gold and diamond covered Moviga wristwatch (est. $800-$1,200).


This auction will present a special opportunity for collectors to purchase property once belonging to America’s Sweetheart from Hollywood’s Golden Era.


Pickfair for Sale…

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008


Historic Pickfair Estate in Beverly Hills Hits Market


September 9, 2008,
by Marissa Gluck


A veritable bargain compared to the Spelling residence, historic property Pickfair has hit the market. The estate once owned by actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, and designed by architect Wallace Neff, is for sale in Beverly Hills. Of course, this isn’t the original Pickfair, since Pia Zadora and her husband tore down the original Neff mansion in the 1980s and put up a larger mansion in its place. The estate is now owned by Unicom Systems (sale price: $15 million in 2005 according to property records, $17.65 million according to Real Estalker,) and apparently is once again in need of restoration according to the listing. In addition to the 17-bedroom, 30-bath estate, the sellers will also negotiate to sell the art and sculptures and “would consider exchange for commercial property, business or other.” Listing price: $60 million.  — 1143 Summit Dr Beverly Hills, CA 90210



Mary Pickford’s Oscars…

Monday, September 8th, 2008


Judge: Jury should decide fate of Pickford Oscars



LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury should decide whether silent film star Mary Pickford signed away rights to sell two Oscars she was awarded, a judge ruled Monday.


Three women who inherited the statuettes and a third one awarded to Pickford’s former husband Charles “Buddy” Rogers had hoped to win a dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The academy, which each year awards film’s highest honor, is seeking to block the public sale of the statuettes.


Pickford won the best actress Oscar in 1930 for Coquette, and was given an honorary Oscar in 1976. Rogers won the academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1986.


The academy claims it has the right to buy back the Oscars for $10 each.


The women inherited the awards through Rogers’ second wife, Beverly. They claim Pickford won her first Oscar before the academy’s $10 buyback rule was enacted, but the academy counters that Pickford signed an agreement after she won her second Oscar that covers both awards.



Attorneys for both sides argued Monday over whether it is Pickford’s signature on the documents.


Judge Rex Heesemen declined to rule for either party on that issue.


“The more I hear this argument, the more I think these are issues the jury has to decide,” Heesemen said.


It was the second time a judge has rejected a motion that would allow the Oscars’ sale.


Attorneys for the Rogers heirs, Kim Boyer, Virginia Patricia Casey and Marian Stahl, wrote in court filings that the academy is dwindling their estate by fighting the sale.


The heir’s attorney, Mark Passin, said he was disappointed with the judge’s ruling.


The case is scheduled to go to trial later this year, although Heesemen said Monday it may be delayed.