Sunday, February 17, 2013

Miss Margarita Fischer

Time for another February birthday celebration!

Margarita Fischer was born on February 12, 1886 in Missouri Valley, Iowa. She was the second daughter born to John and Kate Ficher. Her sister, Katherine, was two years older than her.

Judging from a 1900 Census record, the family was either upper class or upper middle class because they had two servants. Also good to note that Margarita's name is listed as 'Margarette,' so that very well could be her birth name. I have also read conflicting accounts as to the way her last name was spelled at birth. Some places say she was just born 'Fischer,' while others claim she was born 'Ficher' and changed the spelling of it during WWII, or that she removed the 's' from her original name...I am not sure which account is the accurate one, sorry. I also wanted to mention that while I read she had an older sister named Katherine, I also found that she had a younger sister named, Dorothy who later worked as an actress under a different name. clue.

She began her acting career early, working on stage as a child for various touring companies. Her father soon realized how popular his lively daughter was and he set up the Margarita Fischer Stock Company which toured along the west coast for years.

While touring in her own stock company, she began appearing in films in the new film town of Hollywood.  Her first screen appearance was in a 1910 short called There, Little Girl, Don't Cry. For about five years, that was all she appeared in...shorts. It wasn't until 1915 that she appeared in her first feature called The Quest.

The character she is most well known for is that of Eliza in the 1927 version of Uncle Tom's Cabin. What was so interesting (well, now it is) is that Eliza is an African American slave girl and Margarita was white. Playing black face wasn't a big deal back in the early teens and twenties, it was actually a form of entertainment. Can you imagine her playing that role nowadays?

What is interesting is that her most famous picture was also her last picture. Her career may have been short in years, but not in work. She had appeared in over 90 films! The girl needed a breather. She kept busy in her personal life though and also worked and traveled for various charities.

Margarita Fischer passed away on March 11, 1975 in Encinitas, California.

She was interred at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California.

Margarita was only married once, in 1911 to actor and later director, Harry Pollard. They remained married until his death in 1934. The couple never had children.

In 1914, Photoplay magazine held a contest asking who the public thought was the most popular star in America, and Margarita was the winner! She beat out such big names like Mary Pickford and Mabel Normand!

She appeared nude in the 1916 film, The Pearl of Paradise.

According to a 1920 article from Photoplay, Margarita was only five feet tall, had copper colored hair, and gray eyes. She also enjoyed driving and working in her victory garden.

Her niece, Kathie Fischer, also appeared in some early silent films. Kathie later donated a bunch of silent film archival material to the Wichita State University to help keep the memory of her Aunt Margarita and Uncle Harry Pollard alive. Please visit the website here.

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