from my sketchbook: mary fuller

‘Cause the life that lived is dead/And the wind screams Mary
Mary Fuller began making one-reelers for Vitagraph Studios as an eighteen year-old. Soon, she joined the cast of Edison Studios’ 1910 production of Frankenstein,  playing the notorious doctor’s fiancée. This was the first filmed version of Mary Shelley’s horror classic.

By 1914, Mary Fuller was a bona fide movie star, rivaling top box-office draw Mary Pickford. She appeared in a wide variety of roles, mostly dramas. Mary even wrote several screenplays that were made into films. But, her last few films were bombs and her contract was allowed to expire and was not renewed. Mary’s career was over by 1917. She was turned down for roles on Broadway and movie studios told her “You are no longer a film type.” She suffered a nervous breakdown and disappeared from the public eye for a decade.

In 1926, Mary tried unsuccessfully to revive her film career and, again, vanished from the spotlight. After her mother’s death in 1940, Mary suffered another nervous breakdown and her sister got her admitted to St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital in Washington, DC. She remained there until her death in 1973 at the age of 85. When Mary died, the hospital was unable to locate any of her relatives. She was buried in an unmarked grave in Washington’s Congressional Cemetery, in the company of Alexander Macomb, Jr. (commanding general in the War of 1812), J. Edgar Hoover and John Philip Sousa, among many other celebrated names.

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