Recently, I was spending a mere two days in Palm Springs, where I happened to stumble upon the Pickford Theatre. I’d passed by it a few times whilst traveling back and forth between towns, and began wondering if it had anything to do with a certain silent film figure. Curiosity overcame me, and I decided to do a quick research session back at the hotel. I found out that its full name was the Mary Pickford Theatre (ah, now we’re getting somewhere), and there was even mention of a little exhibit displaying items from the personal collections of Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers. I only had a few hours left in Palm Springs, so I made a mad dash there to help satisfy my continuous craving for film history.
The exhibit lies on the right-hand side when you first enter the theater. The room is small and three-sided, yet it held so much more silent film history than I thought I would ever find in Palm Springs.
On one wall, portraits of Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers were displayed above short biographical accounts, as well as their individual filmographies, a photo of the Pickfair estate, and another photo depicting the day the United Artists contract was signed. In the adjacent corner, a gown worn by Mary Pickford in Dorothy Vernon of Hadden Hall (1924) is shown behind a large glass window, surrounded by photos of Mary donning a variety of costumes that were portrayed on screen.
Nearby, Mary Pickford’s lorgnette, monogrammed brush and mirror set, and a bronze cast of her hand were also in view. Shown above these items is a photo of Mary and Buddy in a scene from My Best Girl (1927).
To accompany your browsing, there were two television screens playing a sequence of snippets from some of Mary’s films, along with a program narrated and produced by Mary Pickford.
On the other side of the room, a couple of different displays held her beaded and sequined purses, an assortment of perfume bottles, a silk and ivory parasol used in Coquette (1929), a porcelain Russian Easter egg (with a personal letter explaining the gift), and a small collection of Japanese kimono dolls. In between, memorabilia from Wings (1927), which starred Clara Bow and Buddy Rogers, were laid out to see.
The last two display cases included a single place setting of Napoleon porcelain (which was used for grand occasions at Pickfair), along with a photo of Mary Pickford standing next to the complete dining table set; just behind the champagne glasses is a photo of Mary and Buddy on their wedding day in 1937. In both display cases, a various assortment of Buddy Rogers’s music memorabilia is also shown.
It does not take too long to view the exhibit, but if you’re like me, you’ll probably find yourself lingering there just a little while longer, wide-eyed with wonder. I haven’t really had much of a chance to read up on Mary Pickford and Buddy Rogers yet, but this was a splendid and much more visual way to learn more about their lives and the marks they made in history.