There is probably no other serial star more recognized by none fans than Pearl White. People who have never seen a serial will immediately think of Perils of Pauline (1914) when you mention her name. So associated with this one serial, it was even the title of Betty Huttonís 1947 fanciful bio picture of the actress.
White made her stage debut at the age of six as Little Eva in Uncle Tomís Cabin. An accomplished equestrian she became a trick rider for a circus at age thirteen, but left the profession when a fall seriously injured her back. She worked for a stock theater and in the office of a small film company, making occasional film appearances in small parts in features like The Music Teacher (1910) .
Her big break in film came when Joseph A Golden needed a replacement for his leading lady in Life of Buffalo Bill (unknown). After proving her self in that film she then became Patheís serial star with Perils of Pauline (1914) doing most of her own stunts, except for the more strenuous ones due to her bad back. A runaway success it was quickly followed up with The Exploits of Elaine (1914) featuring a young John Barrymore, which was an even bigger hit and produced the sequels The New Exploits of Elaine (1915) and The Romance of Elaine (1915).
White was now the biggest serial star in the world, starring in a sting of hits; The Iron Claw (1916), Peril of the Army (1916), The Fatal Ring (1917) with Warner Oland, The House of Hate (1918), The Black Secret (1919), and The Lightning Raider (1919). Then White made the worst career move ever. She left Pathe and serials behind.
In 1920 White signed with Fox to become a dramatic actress. Though she did fine work in Thief (1920), Beyond the Price (1921) and Broadway Peacock (1922), the public didnít take to her not being in cliffhanging peril. Returning to Pathe, she made her final serial Plunder (1923), filmed in France. When the crew returned to America, it was without White. Plagued with back pain, White decided to retire from film and settled in France, where she lived until her death in 1938.