Monday, March 22, 2010
The Little Blond Butterfly
By age 10, she was starring in a Booth Tarkington based series of films. At only 13 she was handling adult roles. And 7 months before she turned 16, she was dead.
Lucille Rickson was born in Chicago in 1909. Nothing is known about her father but she had an older brother Marshall, and a mother named Ingeborg. Most likely out of family financial need, she became a model and did some film work for the Essenay Studios while still in Chicago.
In 1920, she and Ingeborg headed west to Hollywood at the request of Sam Goldwyn where, over the next two years she performed in the 12 series installments of “The Adventures of Edgar Pomeroy.”
Under the direction of Marshall Neilan she played her first adult character in "The Strangers Banquet", a critical and commercial success. Another standout was 1923's "Human Wreckage" the drug prevention drama produced by Dorothy Davenport who had become an anti-drug activist since the death of her husband, movie star, Wallace Reid.
Between '20 and '24 Lucille performed with the biggest stars of the day. These names included: Conrad Nagel, Jack Pickford, Louise Fazenda, Laura La Plante, Anna Q. Nilsson, Blanche Sweet, Bessie Love and Billy Haines. When only 14, she was named a WAMPAS Baby Star the same year as Clara Bow.
Then, while filming "The Galloping Fish" with Sidney Chaplin, Lucille became ill. She managed to get herself through one more film before becoming bedridden. Ingeborg maintained a day and night vigil at her daughter's bed side. In a truly melodramatic turn, due to stress, exhaustion and grief, the mother suffered a heart attack and fell dead across her dying child! Within two weeks Little Lucille succumbed. Her death was attributed to tuberculosis, but rumor has always said she died of infection from a botched abortion.
Her final film, released shortly after her death, was "The Denial" with William Haines.