What Happened to Mary?
|What Happened to Mary|
|Directed by||Charles Brabin|
|Written by||Horace G. Plympton|
|Distributed by||General Film Company|
|Language||Silent with intertitles|
What Happened to Mary (frequently erroneously referred to in various texts as "What Happened to Mary?"—but the title was a statement, not a question) is the first motion picture serial made in the United States. Made by Edison Studios, the action serial consisted of twelve one-reel episodes released monthly beginning July 26, 1912 to coincide with the serial story of the same name published in McClure's The Ladies' World magazine. What Happened to Mary was also performed as a stage play and published as a single-volume print novel, so is an early example of a multiple-media marketing campaign.
- Mary Fuller as Mary
- Marc McDermott as Lieutenant Straker
- Charles Ogle as Richard Craig, Mary's Uncle
- Herbert Yost as Henry, Craig's Son
This serial came to be after the editor of The Ladies' World, Charles Dwyer, met Horace G. Plimpton, manager of Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope Company. He was interested in the concept of the story and the plan for an installment each issue. A few days after the meeting he suggested making a film version of each instalment. The parallel release of magazine and serial installments should support each other. The cover of The Ladies' World (1912) advertised "One Hundred Dollars For You IF You Can Tell 'What Happened to Mary" The first chapter of the story was printed in that issue with a competition. The closest correct guess at the events of the next twenty minutes of the story, in 300 words or less, would win $100. This was won by Lucy Proctor of Armstrong, California with the answer that Mary is rescued by a young man in his car. This solution was printed in the September 1912 issue.
Although they would later become synonymous with the medium, and though the heroine did participate in perilous action sequences, no chapter-ending cliffhangers were employed in this production. A sequel (which did include a question mark in its title) was released in 1913 called Who Will Marry Mary?
- The Escape from Bondage
- Alone in New York
- Mary in Stageland
- The Affair at Raynor's
- A Letter to the Princess
- A Clue to Her Parentage
- False to Their Trust
- A Will and a Way
- A Way to the Underworld
- The High Tide of Misfortune
- A Race to New York
- Fortune Smiles
The stage version featuring Olive Wyndham as Mary was produced prior to the release of the published 1913 novelization which incorporated material from the play, the film, and the Ladies' World stories.