Francis Marion

Francis Marion's  first known writing job was was for the Biograph company which started her writing career. She wrote with Anita Loos the New York Hat, 1912, where she met her lifelong friend Mary Pickford. Arriving in Hollywood in 1913, Marion was employed as an actress when she was noticed by prominent director, Lois Weber. Weber, who had a reputation for nurturing new talent, asked her to write lines for the extras. Marion became Weber's protégé and quickly demonstrated versatility: acting, editing, writing and even handling publicity. Marion's first original senario, The Foundling (1916), starring Mary Pickford, altered the course of her professional life. Her career became, in the words of Gavin Lambert (Academy Leader), "as prolific as the silent screen itself." She wrote most of Mary Pickford's most successful films. Among them: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1917), and Pollyanna (1920). Marion and Pickford enjoyed such good union, Pickford gave Marion the opportunity to direct one of her films, The Love Light (1921). In later years, Marion also directed many of Marion Davies' films, but all in all, she preferred writing, saying that directed was a medium best left to others. Marion worked with virtually every major silent director from  D. W. Griffith, to John Ford, writing hit films for many of the biggest stars of the silent era: Marie Dressler, Tillie Wakes Up (1917); Douglas Fairbanks, He Comes Up Smiling (1918); Norma Talmadge, The Lady (1925); Rudolph Valentino, The Son of the Sheik (1926); Lillian Gish The Scarlett Letter (1926) and The Wind (1928); Greta Garbo Love (1927). Over a period of four decades, Marion authored as many as 136 produced screenplays, moving effortlessly from the silents to the talkies. Today, it is a rarity to find a screenwriter who has more than perhaps ten screenplays that actualize themselves in finished form on the screen. Among Marion's credits are some of cinema's earliest sound classics: Anna Christie (1930) - Garbo's first talkie; Min and Bill (1930), with an Oscar-winning performance by Marie Dressler; Dinner at Eight (1933); Camille (1937); and Stella Dallas (1937). To say her creative range was far-reaching would be an understatement. Many of Marion's films were action dramas, glib and fast-paced, with gangsters and gun battles. In the 1930's Marion signed on as a contract writer for MGM she revealed that she was asked her advice on virtually every script MGM produced during the thirties. Despite the acclaim she achieved, Frances Marion remained lucid and unromantic about Hollywood. In a 1969 interview she said, I don't think Hollywood will ever again be as glamourous, or as funny, or as tragic as it was during the teens, the twenties and the thirties. But that's what everybody says about the past...when everything was new and exciting and beautiful. Was it really that way? Frankly, too often, all I can remember are the heartbreaks and the hard work."

On the set  -   Actress Mary Pickford and
          screenwriter Francis Marion

Francis Marion  -   1930's Publicity photo

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