Florence Lawrence

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Florence Lawrence at the age of 22

Florence Lawrence (born January 2, 1886 in Hamilton , Ontario , Canada , † December 28, 1938 in Beverly Hills , Los Angeles , California , United States ; actually Florence Annie Bridgwood ) was a Canadian-American silent film actress , often called first film star in film history.


Grave in Hollywood Forever Cemetery (the year of birth indicated on the grave slab is incorrect)

Florence Lawrence was born in Canada to a vaudeville actress. She was one of the first Canadian film pioneers in Hollywood . In 1906 she made her first film, a year later she had already appeared in 38 productions, which at that time seldom lasted longer than 15 minutes. She appeared in some of DW Griffith's earliest films and over time became the first real star in film history. The audience began to specifically demand productions with the actress who was initially only known as " The Biograph Girl ".

In 1910 it was Carl Laemmle who used this fame specifically for advertising purposes. He lured Lawrence with a lucrative contract to his company IMP (Independent Motion Picture Company) and published fabricated reports in the national press, according to which Florence Lawrence, the former "Biograph Girl", was killed in a traffic accident. A day later he had these reports denied as being infamous and launched by his enemies. At the same time it was announced that Florence Lawrence was doing well and that her first film as "IMP Girl" The Broken Oath would soon be available for distribution. From that time on, film actors were also known as individuals, and the star being had begun.

Lawrence made countless films until 1915, most of which showed her as the virgin heroine in Victorian melodramas. After sustaining severe burns in a studio fire that year, she was sidelined for several years. With the change in public taste after the First World War , Florence Lawrence was increasingly forgotten. In 1929 she lost her fortune in the stock market crash at the time and fell into severe depression in the years that followed. She lived on a small salary that a foundation for impoverished artists paid her. In 1938 she committed suicide. She found her final resting place in Hollywood Forever Cemetery .

Filmography (selection)

Documentary film

  • David Gill, Kevin Brownlow : Hollywood. A Celebration of the American Silent Film. Part 1: The Pioneers. HBO Video, New York NY 1979, (VHS video).

Web links

Commons : Florence Lawrence  - Collection of Images