Movies Way Back When: Mary Pickford in Montecito

By Betsy J. Green

Silent-movie star Mary Pickford came to Montecito to film a scene for “Stella Maris.” This movie was released on January 21, 1918. Pickford stood in the garden theater that was located on the Piranhurst estate, owned by the Bothin family. (Santa Barbara’s “Flying A” film studio also used this picturesque estate on Cold Springs Road in several of their movies.)

Mary was accompanied by Teddy, a famous movie dog that belonged to director Mack Sennett. Mary had a great deal of respect for this Great Dane. She told a newspaper interviewer, “All through the play, the dog’s acting is as fine as any human being’s and the expression in his eyes, perhaps, even more wonderful, for can any eyes express as much love as one sees in the eyes of a dog?” (Times Union, Brooklyn, New York, February 11, 1918)

Good news – you can find this movie on Youtube!

Betsy’s Way Back When book — 1919 — is now available in local bookstores and at This is the sixth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at​.


Written by bjgreen

Betsy J. Green is a Santa Barbara historian and author. Her books are available in local bookstores, and at (Shop local if you can.) Learn more at

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