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Juliette Fay | A Star – the Very First – Is Born
Author Guest / May 3, 2019

The Rise and Fall of Florence Lawrence, the World’s First Movie Star What makes a movie star? Today we’ve got the general recipe down: mix bankable films with broad popularity. Add a healthy social media following and sauté in critical acclaim. Garnish with head-turning red carpet appearances. And if you’re very, very lucky, pair with a performance of your blockbuster movie’s Oscar-winning theme song … But in 1909 no one knew. The concept of stardom didn’t exist because early movie studios didn’t want anyone to know. The thinking went like this: the more popular and “known” actors became, the more money they would demand. Studios kept their performers anonymous—no acting credits were listed—so that if a particular actor became too demanding or difficult, he or she was more easily replaced. Disposability served the bottom line. Then Florence Lawrence came along, and all hell broke loose. She was attractive, but no more so than many other actresses of her day, such as Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish, both of whom would go on to be far more successful and well-remembered. What Florence was, besides anonymously popular, was prolific. From 1908 through the middle of 1909, she was featured in over 100…