Today is the birthday of famous Hollywood ne’er-do-well Jack Pickford (John Charles Smith, 1896-1933).
Not a significant artist himself (although considered by his peers to have been quite talented) he rode on the coat-tails of his highly successful sister Mary Pickford’s career, and made his way mostly as a bit player and a lead in B movies (although he had played a few prestigious roles.) Unfortunately, he inherited his father’s alcoholism (it was the father’s booze problem which caused the family to resort to show business in the first place.)
Jack Pickford is best known for the scandals he caused with his drinking, drugs, and womanizing. And he had some famous wives: Olive Thomas, whose death by poisoning was one of the first Hollywood scandals; Marilyn Miller, whom he reportedly abused; and lastly the less famous Mary Mulhern. Many feel that it was the shenanigans of Pickford and his crowd that helped create a climate wherein it was necessary for Roscoe Arbuckle to be publicly punished following the death of Virginia Rappe. Pickford himself died of alcohol related causes in 1933. He was only 37.
To learn more about silent film history please check out my book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc.