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Mary Pickford may not be as well known as she should be today, but the silent star was among the first movie stars and co-founded United Artists with Charlie Chaplin and husband Douglas Fairbanks. One of her major films, 1911’s Their First Misunderstanding, was thought to be lost, until the last remaining copy was discovered in a New Hampshire barn several years ago. Now, with the help of the Library of Congress, the film is being restored and will be screened.
According to the Associated Press, carpenter Peter Massie came across the film and six other rare vintage films back in 2006. The Library of Congress has backed a restoration of the film, which will be screened at Keene State College in Keene, NH. next month. A retired professor had helped with the restoration.
The First Misunderstanding was a turning point for Pickford. It was the first film she wrote and the first time she was credited in ads for the film. Prior to that, movie executives had hoped to keep the names of their stars unknown, fearing that they would want more money, Pickford historian Christel Schmidt told the AP.
“This is the coolest thing I've ever found on any job,” Massie told the AP. “It's pretty fantastic, that's what I think. They were seconds away from going into a Dumpster."
Pickford has an important role in film history. PBS notes that she had also helped create the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the group that gives out the Oscars every year. She retired in 1933, a few years after the introduction of sound, and died in 1979.
The following is a video of Pickford receiving her honorary Oscar:
image: Wikimedia Commons