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Mary Fuller

Biography: 

Mary Fuller (1888-1973)

After IMP created the first movie star in the publicity campaign around Florence Lawrence, other independent producers determined to create name female performers on the IMP-girl model. The Edison Company selected Mary Fuller to be the focus of its glorification. She had been a member of the Edison stock company in the late 1900s, appearing without credit as the central performer iin Van Dyne Brooke's 1908 "The Stage Struck Daughter" and Edwin S. Porter story shorts such as "The House of Cards" in 1909. Edison churned out a multitude of product in which she appeared until it decided to feature her in the recurring character of "Mary" in 1912. In "What Happened to Mary" and "Mary in Stage Land" a following was generated, causing the company to launch her in a longer (over three reel) feature, "Who Will Mary Mary" (1913). Edison's 'girl' was run through the anxiety mill and true to formula, a following was created. Fuller, however, was a more intelligent and demanding performer than Florence Lawrence. She decided to assert control over the features in which she appeared, supplying the scenario for the desert peril and romance story of "A Princess of the Desert" in late 1913. She also let it be known that she did not wish to be limited to being "Mary." The Edison executives, who preferred producing shorts to feature films, were willing to comply, starring Fuller in a multitude of short stories in which she appeared as princesses, spunky daughters, country lasses, aristocratic heiresses. Believing that they had saturated the public with her presence, Edison sold her contract to Victor. Immediately that film company took a more daring approach with her characterization presenting her in autumn of 1914 as "The Witch Girl" and "The Phantom Cracksman." 1915's allegorical "Everygirl" was among her most endearing presentations under the Victor brand. Yet Victor, like Edison, relegated her to shorts at a time when rival companies imbedded their female stars in feature length prestige releases. After two years of Victor shorts, Universal picked up her contract, featured her in several releases. Her inability to strike sparks with the photogenic leading man Lou Tellegen's 1917 western, "The Long Trail," spelled her doom at Universal. Her career ceased suddenly in 1917.  David S. Shields