Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pickford Legacy Denouement


Mary Pickford, known as America's Sweetheart in her heyday as a film actress, won two Oscars in her lifetime. One was for Coquette, her first talkie, in 1930--only the second Oscar ceremony. The other was a Lifetime Achievement Oscar presented three years before she died.

Those Oscars are the crux of a court battle waged by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (of which Pickford was a founding member) and Pickford's heirs--who strangely, have no relation to her at all. Did she ever even meet any of them? These 'heirs' want to auction off the Coquette Oscar, to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for a charity.

My hubpages entry has a lot of the background (and some pictures) about this case. But no newspaper story says anything about Mary Pickford's and Buddy Roger's two children, who were adopted in the 1940s when Mary was over fifty years old. The PBS American Experience show and page on Pickford casts aspersions on her as a parent, though a relative claims she was a loving mother (see the comments on the hubpage).

Where do those children--Ronald and Roxanne--stand on this? Don't they have something to say about their Mother's legacy? Did they have children, and do they have an opinion? Enquiring minds want to know! So here's what I learned in the last hour:

According to a story on Fest21, a Film Festival site, Roxanne is deceased and Ronald dropped out of sight after an adulthood spiced with drugs and prison sentences. This article claims that Pickford's will bequeathed each of her children $50,000 "but the actual amounts they received from the estate were significantly smaller." Pickford's grandchildren had their schooling and college paid for too.

So the nieces of Buddy Rogers' second wife are the ones slugging it out with the Academy. Her children and grandchildren are not being heard from--at least, not in the media.

The legacy of America's Sweetheart is that, for all the good words her fans have to say about her (and they are legion), she's another piece of history. All that she earned has been quantified and may be distributed as the courts see fit.

Doesn't sit well.

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