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Hollywood Memorial

Florence Lawrence

Silent screen actress known as ‘The Biograph Girl,’ and the first “movie star.’ Lawrence persuaded famed Director D.W. Griffith to hire her for Biograph Pictures, where she became ‘The Biograph Girl’ because actors were not originally credited in films for fear they would become famous and demand more money. In 1915, she was seriously injured while shooting a stunt on a burning staircase, affecting her physically, mentally and leaving her with back problems, facial scarring and temporary paralysis. She made many attempts at a comeback, resorting to plastic surgery in the 1920s to try to improve her appearance. In 1936, she was hired by MGM, which was attempting to revive past stars, though mostly in bit parts paying her just $75 a week. She died poor without ever regaining her former fame, committing suicide by ingesting a lethal mixture of cough syrup and ant paste. Her grave remained unmarked in a lonely corner of Hollywood Forever Cemetery for many years, until actor Roddy McDowell purchased a headstone when he found out about the tragic situation.