Charlotte Hennessey: Canadian-born American actress (1873 - 1928) | Biography
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Charlotte Hennessey
Canadian-born American actress

Charlotte Hennessey

Charlotte Hennessey
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Canadian-born American actress
A.K.A. Elsie Charlotte Printer, Charlotte Smith Pickford
Was Actor
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender female
Birth 1 January 1873, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Death 22 March 1928, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A. (aged 55 years)
Children: Mary PickfordLottie PickfordJack Pickford
Charlotte Hennessey
The details (from wikipedia)


Charlotte Hennessey Smith (Pickford) (January 1, 1873 – March 22, 1928) was a Canadian silent film actress and the mother of Mary, Lottie, and Jack Pickford, who all became actors.

Early life and marriage

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to Irish Catholic parents from County Kerry, Charlotte Hennessey supported herself as a seamstress. She married John Charles Smith, son of English Methodist immigrants. She agreed to rear their children in his Methodist faith. The couple had three children: Gladys Louise, later actress Mary Pickford, Charlotte, later actress Lottie Pickford, and John Charles, later actor Jack Pickford.

Film industry

In 1898, Smith's husband John Charles died from a blood clot caused by a workplace accident when he was a purser with the Niagara Steamship Lines. Charlotte Smith struggled to make a living. She allowed her eldest daughter to take some theatre roles in Toronto in parts for children and, as the other children grew, toured with them with theater companies around the United States. They moved to New York, where Gladys, the oldest landed a role on Broadway. Soon she was able to get some film work, and changed her name to Mary Pickford at the request of a director. Later both her siblings adopted Pickford as a surname for their acting work. After her daughter, Gladys, known then as actress Mary Pickford, started getting film roles, Charlotte Smith acted in minor parts in three silent films in 1910 and 1911, with her daughter. All three children: Mary, Lottie, and Jack Pickford, became actors, although only Mary Pickford achieved great fame and fortune.

Charlotte Smith continued to play a large role in managing her children's careers. She negotiated her daughter Mary Pickford's landmark contracts in the United States as a child star (including her $1 million a year contract, the first of its kind). Smith took a role in United Artists and the Mary Pickford Film Company, founded by her daughter, until her death.


On March 22, 1928, Smith died of breast cancer after refusing surgery. She had already had several major operations. She was buried in the Pickford plot at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. She bequeathed $200,000 each in trust to her two younger children, Jack and Lottie, and to Lottie's daughter Gwynne. She left the large bulk of her estate to her eldest daughter Mary of $1 million, and she acknowledged the reasons in her will: "Whatever property I possess at the time of my death has come to me through my association with my beloved daughter in her business and through her most unusual generosity to me."


  • A Victim of Jealousy (1910)
  • The Impalement (1910)
  • Sweet Memories (1911)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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