Florence Lawrence
     THE BIOGRAPH GIRL

Florence Lawrence was born in Hamilton, Ontario on January 1, 1890. Her career in show business started at the age of four when she traveled the vaudeville circuit billed as "Baby Flo - The Child Wonder Whistler." She made her film debut at Vitagraph in 1907 in a move titled Daniel Boone. The following year, 1908, Florence went on to make 38 movies at Vitagraph. She moved to the Biograph company the following year and it was here that Florence made some of her most memorable films, including Resurrection, which was directed by D. W. Griffith. Florence Lawrence starred in a remarkable 65 films in 1909. What is even more remarkable than the number of movies she made for Biograph, is the fact that Florence Lawrence had worked anonymously. Florence Lawrence therefore became known as "The Biograph Girl". Carl Laemmle (who went on to found Universal Pictures) started his new IMP Company in 1910 he wanted Florence to be his leading actress, and the star system was born. Laemmle started a false rumor that she had been killed in a streetcar accident in St.Louis. At just the right moment he bought huge ads in all the leading newspapers saying that she was still alive, and now working for the IMP Company Suddenly, everyone knew her name. Laemmle then had Lawrence do a personal appearance in  St.Louis and she drew more people than the President who had visited the city a week earlier. But the world's first movie star did not enjoy her status for long. She was badly burned in 1915 when trying to save someone else in a studio fire. She appeared in only a handful of films after her unsuccessful comeback attempt in The Enfoldment. She was able to get some work in bit parts at MGM including a brief appearance in 1936's One Rainy Afternoon. In a sad twist of fate Lawrence was not given a screen credit for her last film role. A few days after Christmas, she committed suicide by poison. She died in 1938.

A special thanks to David Pearson
         f or many of our photos

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