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Mary Fuller

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Birthday: Oct 5, 1888

Birthplace: Not Available

The leading lady of the pioneering Edison company, brunette Mary Fuller was a major early movie star who, by 1914, rivaled Mary Pickford in popularity. Although she appeared in a wide variety of roles from her debut in 1907, Fuller is today only remembered as the star of What Happened to Mary? (1912), the forerunner of the adventure serial. Based on a series of stories published in McClure's Ladies World Magazine, the 12 installments of What Happened to Mary? depicted how Mary, a foundling, had to fend for herself in an inhospitable world. Each chapter was a self-contained story and was geared more toward poignant drama than the heart-palpitating excitement of the later serial format. Still, What Happened to Mary and its 1913 sequel Who Will Marry Mary? are considered the origins of the chapterplay genre and Mary Fuller is often mentioned alongside Kathlyn Williams, Pearl White, Helen Holmes, and Ruth Roland, all serial queens benefiting from her pioneering work. When Edison failed to promote Fuller's latest series The Active Life of Dolly of the Dailies(1914), yet another co-venture with the Ladies World Magazine, the actress jumped ship and signed a lucrative contract with Universal. Promoted as that company's answer to Mary Pickford, Fuller starred in such melodramas as: The Witch Girl (1914) with Charles Ogle; A Daughter of the Nile (1915) opposite Pickford's brother-in-law Matt Moore; and Under Southern Skies (1915), her first feature-length production. Then, after finishing work on The Long Trail (1917), Mary Fuller seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. For decades her whereabouts remained a mystery and as time went on, the question of "What Happened to Mary Fuller?" seemed increasingly unanswerable. Then in the mid-'90s, a couple of enterprising film historians managed to track her down. Unfortunately, Mary Fuller's later life in obscurity was fraught with sadness and seemed right out of one of her films. She had apparently suffered a nervous breakdown following a star-crossed love affair with a married opera singer. Returning to her hometown of Washington, D.C., Fuller entered a mental institution to undergo lengthy treatment, completely severing her ties to the entertainment world. In 1926, she returned to Hollywood and attempted to resume her screen career but there were no takers. The death of her mother in 1946 brought on another breakdown, and on July 1, 1947, Fuller was admitted to Washington's St. Elizabeth Hospital. She remained there for 25 years, until her death in December 1973.



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