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    Who is Florence Lawrence?

    Florence Lawrence was a Canadian-American theatre and screen actress who was born on January 2, 1886, as Florence Annie Bridgwood. She is known as the “first movie star” and was assumed to be the first film actress to be publicly identified until evidence revealed in 2019 that the first-named film celebrity was French actor Max Linder.

    She was known as the Biograph Girl at the height of her career in the 1910s for her work as one of the main ladies in silent films produced by the Biograph Company. Throughout her career, she appeared in around 300 films for a variety of studios.

    Florence Annie Bridgwood was the youngest of three children born to George Bridgwood, an English carriage manufacturer, and Charlotte ‘Lotta’ Bridgwood (née Dunn), a vaudeville actress, in Hamilton, Ontario. Charlotte Bridgwood immigrated to Canada with her family as a kid after the Great Famine in Ireland. She was the leading lady and director of the Lawrence Dramatic Company and was known professionally as Lotta Lawrence. Lawrence made her stage debut alongside her mother in a song and dance routine when she was three years old.

    Florence Lawrence

    Lawrence was one of several Canadian film industry pioneers attracted by the fledgling motion picture industry’s rapid expansion. Her debut motion picture was released in 1906. She performed in 38 films for the Vitagraph film company the following year.

    A young actor named Harry Solter was also at Vitagraph, looking for a young, attractive equestrian lady’ to star in a picture directed by D. W. Griffith and produced by the Biograph Studios. Griffith, Biograph Studios’ most notable producer-director, had observed the lovely blonde-haired woman in one of Vitagraph’s pictures.

    Lawrence married three times but never had children. In 1908, she married Harry Solter, an actor, screenwriter, and director. Solter died in 1920, and they remained married until his death. In 1921, she married Charles Byrne Woodring, an automobile salesman.

    Lawrence called M-G-offices M’s at 1 p.m. on December 28, 1938, reporting she was ill and would not be able to report to work that afternoon. Lawrence swallowed ant poison and cough medicine at her West Hollywood home later that afternoon.

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