blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
Florence Turner

Florence Turner (1887–1946), born in New York City, was thrust into the acting world at the age of three by her actress mother. In 1906, Turner joined Vitagraph Studios as wardrobe mistress/cashier/actress. Turner’s silent film debut came in 1907. She became known as “The Vitagraph Girl” and was one of the first two actresses to be labeled as a movie star. In 1913 she and director Larry Trimble left Vitagraph to begin Turner Films Ltd. in England. The Rose of Surrey was the first film the new company produced, followed by about two films a month. In June 1914, readers of Pictures and the Picture Goer voted Turner Britain’s favorite female film star. In addition to starring in the films, Turner wrote and directed Daisy Doodad’s Dial. In late 1914, Turner wrote and starred in Shopgirls; or, The Great Question. This film was widely publicized as her most personal project, based upon her experience working during a Christmas season at a New York Department store. Turner’s 1915 film, My Old Dutch, was wildly successful. By 1918 it had been booked by more than a third of all cinemas in the United Kingdom. Despite the success of Turner Films, the onset of World War I was devastating for the company. By 1924, she settled permanently in Hollywood, taking small parts and extra roles with MGM. In 1928, she held a minor role in Sign of the Leopard on Broadway. At the age of sixty-one, after appearing in more than one hundred sixty films, Turner died in Woodland Hills, California.  end