Marguerite Clark

Active - 1914 - 1921  |   Born - Feb 22, 1883   |   Died - Sep 25, 1940   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Comedy

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Often dismissed as merely an imitation of Mary Pickford, brunette Marguerite Clark's film debut in The Wildflower (1914) was cited as "the best screen performance to date" and she was voted the top female star in America in 1916 (and would be again in 1920). A stage ingénue of some renown who had toured with DeWolf Hopper in Baby Mine and starred opposite John Barrymore in Anatol, Clark may have been hired by Famous Players-Lasky as a threat to the demanding Pickford. She soon asserted herself and, by 1915, had become one of the screen's highest-paid stars. Finding her true métier playing girls much younger than herself -- she was to appear as both Snow White (1916) and, inevitably, Little Eva/Topsy in Uncle Tom's Cabin (1918) -- the four foot-ten inch Clark was, in the words of film historian William K. Everson, a "sensitive and captivating little actress." Like everyone else, Everson relied more on anecdotal evidence than any personal survey; even more so than those of her contemporaries, Clark's films seem to have vanished without a trace, leaving only fragmentary proof of her much vaunted talent and charm. Although no longer in the first bloom of youth, Marguerite Clark was still a top box-office draw when she decided to retire in 1921. Audiences stubbornly refused to let her grow up and, happily married to a Louisiana planter, she had long since tired of the daily grind of movie making. Returning to New York after the death of her husband in 1936, Clark died there after a brief bout with pneumonia in 1940.