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Pickford Documentary Premieres Tonight

Have you ever placed your palms in the handprints of one of your favorite stars? Or stood in the shoes of a giant of the silver screen? If you’ve been to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, chances are the answer is “yes.”  But ever wondered whose idea it was to have the biggest stars of the movies put their prints in cement for all to see?

“America’s (and Beverly Hills’) Sweetheart” Mary Pickford (1882-1978) and the original “Zorro” Douglas Fairbanks (1883-1939) were building their dream home, Pickfair on Summit Drive.

They had bought the land in 1917, the year before they were married, and thus became one of the City’s original celebrity couples

Mary’s dog, “Zorro” ran through freshly poured cement, leaving behind his footprints. Pickford was about to cover his tracks, but instead suggested to her friend, Sid Grauman, that his theater on Hollywood Boulevard feature the hand and footprints of the stars. Grauman agreed if she and Fair-banks would be the first.

Pickford is the subject of a new documentary Mary Pickford, The Muse Of The Movies, produced and directed by Nicholas Eliopoulos. It will have its Southland premiere tonight at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., in Beverly Hills.

According to Eliopoulos, the film follows the life of Pickford, which parallels the birth of cinema.

“I discovered that Mary Pickford was one of “the first movie moguls.” She was the prime founder of United Artists (now owned by another Beverly Hills resident, Tom Cruise), and was the first actor to earn $1 million.

“She also got an unheard of 50 percent of the gross from all her movies.”

Eliopoulos also discovered hours of audio interviews conducted with Pickford. “I used those along with Michael York for the narration,” he said. “About 50 percent of the film is narrated by her.”

The screening will benefit the World Research foundation, co-founded by Laverne Boeckmann , who siad: “It will be a very special occasion to both celebrate Nicholas’ wonderful film on the 100th anniversary of Mary’s debut in film and to continue the vital services WRF provides.”

Eliopoulos added: “I couldn’t think of a better way to introduce the film to Los Angeles than with a gala at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences which Mary Pickford herself was instrumental in founding.”

The event begins with a reception and silent auction from 7 p.m. with dessert and coffee to follow the 8 p.m. screening. A tax deductible $75 donation to the World Research Foundation is requested.

For tickets, call 310-827-0070 or e-mail laverne@ wrf.org.

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