Mae Marsh as “Little Tease”

The Little Tease
R: David W. Griffith. B: David W. Griffith. K: G.W. Bitzer. D: Mae Marsh, W. Chrystie Miller, Kate Bruce, Robert Harron, Henry B. Walthall, Viola Barry, Lionel Barrymore, Edward Dillon, Lillian Gish. P: Biograph Company. USA 1913
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(Mary Warne) Marsh did not enjoy public school or her time at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Hollywood, and she spent her summers unhappily employed as a telephone operator*. Looking for new opportunities, she began following her sister Marguerite Loveridge to the film studios, where she landed a job on a one-reel silent film by Mack Sennett in January 1912. She was then signed by filmmaker D.W. Griffith to his Biograph studio. Although she had no training in acting, Marsh appeared as a supporting actress in three silent films over the next three months. No acting credits were listed in films at that time, but her first role was most likely in A Siren of Impulse, a vehicle for Biograph’s star performer, Mary Pickford. At Griffith’s urging, Marsh changed her first name to Mae to avoid confusion with Pickford, who was sometimes identified as ‘Little Mary’ (and whose own real name was Gladys Smith). Marsh received her first big break when Pickford, Blanche Sweet , and Mabel Normand all turned down the opportunity to play Lily White, the leading role in Griffith’s Man’s Genesis, whose costume in the film was considered risqué. Griffith gave Marsh the part opposite Bobby Harron, a successful partnership that Griffith would repeat again and again. Pickford, Sweet and Normand each sought to star in Griffith’s next project, The Sands of Dee, which he gave to Marsh both as a reward for her previous performance and as payback to the other actresses. Marsh worked with Griffith at several different studios until 1916, and these were her most productive years as an actress. Of the numerous films (many co-starring Bobby Harron) in which she appeared, her most popular roles were as Apple Pie Mary in Home Sweet Home (1914), as Flora Cameron, who hurls herself off a cliff rather than submit to rape, in the much-vaunted and enduringly controversial The Birth of a Nation (1915), and as the ‘Dear Little One’ in Intolerance (1916), a role which Pauline Kael described as the epitome of ‘youth-in-trouble forever.’ Marsh’s ability to project her emotions convincingly brought rave reviews from critics and adulation from fans.”
Kari Bethel

* >>> Mae Marsh in The Telephone Girl and the Lady

>>> more Mae Marsh films: Home, Sweet HomeThe New York Hat,   Judith of BethuliaThe Battle at Elderbush GulchThe Birth of a Nation


Mae Marsh, 1915