The fabled Mary Pickford Auditorium is where the most important CMC events—or maybe just life events in general—occur: Mr. Stag (RIP), admissions information sessions with 150+ people, and key orientation events. While you’ve probably sat in those fancy red seats multiple times, you may not know the auditorium’s origins.
As you may or may not know (including myself before I started writing this article), Mary Pickford was colloquially known as “America’s Sweetheart” and famously recognized as a silent movie star throughout the 1910s and ’20s. While she didn’t attend CMC, or ever step foot on campus for that matter, Pickford’s legacy lives on through coincidence and one accountant who loved to jog (yes, seriously).
Edward Stotsenberg was Mary Pickford’s personal accountant throughout most of her life. After her death in 1979, the Mary Pickford Foundation was established to support education, which donated Pickford’s assets. Stotsenberg did not attend CMC either, but loved to run laps around the CMC track with his wife. Through this activity, Stotsenberg became familiar with and grew fond of CMC.
Stotsenberg later became the director of the Mary Pickford Foundation, selecting CMC as one of the institutions to which he directed his funds. This included a scholarship fund and the renovation of what is now known as Pickford Auditorium!
At the auditorium’s completion in 1989, Stotsenberg arranged for a dedication. Buddy Rogers, an Academy Award-winning actor and Pickford’s third (and final) husband, attended the dedication and performed a song and dance routine.
If you look closely in the back of the auditorium, there is a portrait of Mary Pickford herself. The Pickford Foundation actually ran a contest for high school students asking them to paint a portrait of Pickford. Although the portrait currently in the auditorium is one of the contest entrants rather than a winning painting, it really brings out Pickford’s eyes.
The Mary Pickford Foundation Scholarship still exists today; each year, a $17,000 need-based scholarship is awarded with no restrictions.
Through this somewhat odd and coincidental connection, America’s Sweetheart is forever immortalized at CMC, even if the most famous event is CMC’s male population parading around in their underwear.
Many thanks to John Faranda ’79 who provided me with invaluable information for this article.