Mary Pickford was one of Hollywood's first celebrities and the first "American Sweetheart," known to early 20th-century audiences as "the girl with the curls." Pickford, who died in 1979, starred in scores of short and feature films, some of which she wrote and produced herself.
One of those films, "The First Misunderstanding," was thought to be lost forever, until a New Hampshire "movie buff" found it stowed away in an old barn he was about to tear down.
"I was up in the attic, and tucked away over in a corner was some film, film canisters and a silent movie projector," Peter Massey told the New Hampshire Union Leader last week.
"I thought it was really cool. I always look around before a demolition. You never know what you'll find."
The Library of Congress considers the 10-minute short film so significant that it agreed to fund the $9,000 worth of restoration.
"This particular piece was considered lost, and it's a very big deal that it is preserved," Pickford scholar Charles Schmidt said of the 1911 treasure.
Pickford wrote "The First Misunderstanding" and co-produced it with her first husband, Owen Moore, a sign of her social and creative independence that made her "the era's most famous and arguably influential woman," Schmidt said.
Keene State University will host a screening of the restored film on Oct. 11.