Mary Pickford’s Role in the History of Beverly Hills

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks in the their swimming pool at Pickfair in Beverly Hills. The photo, from Marc Wanamaker’s Bison Archives, appears in Los Angeles Magazine’s article “How the World’s First Movie Stars Made Sure Beverly Hills Didn’t Become Part of L.A..” 

In his presentation to the Windsor Square – Hancock Park Historical Society last month, historian Marc Wanamaker described the singular accomplishments of Mary Pickford, which were highly unusual for both a woman and a Hollywood actor at that time.  He also noted her role as a leading figure in keeping Beverly Hills a city independent from Los Angeles.

Speaking at her one-time residence in Fremont Place last month, Wanamaker explained that Pickford used her celebrity to encourage city leaders to trade independence for water rights, marking the first time a Hollywood celebrity advocated for a cause.

At the time, Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks were part of growing number of wealthy people who had settled in Beverly Hills, according to a new book by Nancie Clare, “The Battle for Beverly Hills.”   It’s a fascinating look into the people who helped create the city of Beverly HIlls…and an excerpt  is featured in March issue of Los Angeles Magazine.

Wanamaker told the Buzz that he worked with Clare, supplying most of the images for the book and for the article from his Bison Archives collection.

“She researched all the stories about this subject through original sources at the time and interviewed people who were around at that time,” Wanamaker told the Buzz. “I think it is the best one could find to date about what had happened at that time.”

“The Battle for Beverly Hills,” is definitely one for our local history libraries.

Photos of Mary Pickford and Fremont Place from Bison Archives

About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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