# 7: The Actress and Actor You Never Knew About
Florence Lawrence (born Florence Annie Bridgwood; January 2, 1886 – December 28, 1938) was a Canadian-American stage performer and film actress. She is often referred to as the “first movie star”, and was thought to be the first film actor to be named publicly until evidence published in 2019 indicated that the first named film star was French actor Max Linder. At the height of her fame in the 1910’s, she was known as the “Biograph Girl” for work as one of the leading ladies in silent films from the Biograph Company. She appeared in almost 300 films for various motion picture companies throughout her career.
Her death was rather gruesome. She ingested rat poison with two bottles of cough syrup. She did leave a note to a man named Bob Brinlow, her “house-mate. It stated:
Call Dr. Wilson. I am tired. Hope this works. Good bye, my darling. They can’t cure me, so let it go at that.
Lovingly, Florence – P.S. You’ve all been swell guys. Everything is yours.
You can Google her to find out other interesting details on her life. One being, she is responsible for something you use on your car she invented in 1914 which has since been modified as we know it today.
The windshield wiper.
Gabriel Leuvielle (16 December 1883 –1 November 1925), known professionally as Max Linder (French: was a French actor, director, screenwriter, producer, and comedian of the silent film era. His onscreen persona “Max” was one of the first recognizable recurring characters in film. He has also been cited as the “first international movie star” and “the first film star anywhere”.
Born in Cavernes, France to Catholic parents, Linder grew up with a passion for theater and enrolled in the Conservatoire de Bordeaux in 1899. He soon received awards for his performances and continued to pursue a career in the legitimate theater. He became a contract player with the Bordeaux Théâtre des Arts from 1901 to 1904, performing in plays by Molière, Pierre Corneille, and Alfred de Musset.
From the summer of 1905, Linder appeared in short comedy films for Pathé, at first usually in supporting roles. His first major film role was in the Georges Méliès-like fantasy film The Legend of Punching.
During the following years, Linder made several hundred short films portraying “Max”, a wealthy and dapper man-about-town frequently in hot water because of his penchant for beautiful women and the good life. Starting with The Skater’s Debut in 1907, the character became one of the first identifiable motion-picture characters who appeared in successive situation comedies. By 1911, Linder was co-directing his own films as well as writing the scripts.
Linder enlisted at the outbreak of the World War One, and worked at first as a dispatch driver and entertainer. During his service, he was injured several times, and the experiences reportedly had a devastating effect on him both physically and mentally. It was during this time he suffered his first outbreak of chronic depression.
He, along with his wife, actress Martha Mansfield, were found dead, side by side from an apparent suicide which was deemed suspicious at the time.
(Above photo shows Max on the left with his wife in “Max Wants A Divorce” – 1917)
It would seem celebrities, known or unknown, over the last hundred plus years still can discover a happy medium with career and private life—well, sort of.