I couldn't resist posting this 1912 advertising card featuring Edison Player Mary Fuller in promotion of "The Escape from Bondage," Episode 1 of What Happened to Mary.
Before Pearl White, Helen Holmes or Kathlyn Williams starred in their popular serials there was the influential 12 episode What Happened to Mary series starring Mary Fuller.
Each entry of What Happened to Mary stood alone, though each starred Fuller as Mary. There were no cliffhangers like the serials to come. The entries were released once per month by the Edison Company in conjunction with McClure Publishing beginning July 26, 1912.
The idea actually originated at McClure's when they created the What Happened to Mary series for publication in their Ladies' World Magazine. The August 1912 edition of Ladies' World featured a Charles Dana Gibson illustration of "Mary" with a banner underneath proclaiming "One Hundred Dollars for You If You Can Tell 'What Happened to Mary'."
As implied, Ladies' World did not print an ending to the story--that would be supplied by a reader for the $100 reward. Terry Ramsaye writes in A Million and One Nights that "The magazine stories and the screen releases did not synchronize accurately, but it was none the less a successful promotion (656).
Successful enough to inspire a 1913 sequel, Who Will Marry Mary? Ladies' World introduced that feature with a Mary Fuller cover on their August 1913 issue and the 6-chapter serial premiered on July 26 of that year.
As for What Happened to Mary here's how the Pastime Theatre of Canton, PA advertised the coming first feature on the reverse side of that same card shown above:
The card shown on this page is currently available for bid in my eBay Auctions. Find it HERE.
Please see more on Mary Fuller in this article I wrote for Inherited Values in January, 2010. Also see the fantastic Robert S. Birchard article What Happened to Mary? to find out more about actress Mary Fuller.
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