Little Mary Sunshine (1916)

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A precocious child brings a man and his estranged fiancée back together in this sentimental but extremely popular comedy-drama produced by the Balboa company of Long Beach, California. Five-year-old Baby Marie Osborne starred in the title-role, the motherless victim of a drunken father who stows away in the car of handsome Bob Daley (Henry King). Like Mary's father, young Daley is addicted to the devil brew, but his love for Little Mary Sunshine not only turns him into a teetotaler but reunites him with his estranged fiancée, Sylvia Stanford (Marguerite Nichols). This cliché-ridden drama gave Baby Marie Osborne -- or as she was known around the studio, the "Baby Grand" -- international fame. Balboa would produce nine additional Baby Marie Osborne films, the little girl becoming arguably the company's most valuable asset. Director/leading man Henry King, also benefitting from his association with the child star, went on to enjoy a legendary career as a director of (mainly) rural romances, chiefly for Fox and its successor, 20th Century Fox.