“Fearless Peerless Pearl,” as White was known by her legion of fans, ushered in a craze for thrilling action-oriented serial films, and stood at the head of a wave of action-film heroines, and a separate but related surge of women directing and producing films during the early years of cinema. Pearl, and fellow action-film stars Helen Holmes, Ruth Roland, Grace Cunard, and Kathlyn Williams to name just a few, delighted audiences with their serials, playing women who courted adventure or faced it in their jobs. They embarked on adventures in planes, submarines, and cars, on ships and on horseback, and while White sometimes needed help extricating herself from dicey situations, just as often as not, she did the rescuing. Perils of Pauline was a huge hit both in the U.S. and abroad, and it brought White an international following. She was voted the most popular movie star in Motion Picture Magazine’s 1916 popularity contest. Two years later she was still third on the list. White performed her own stunts and was sometimes injured as a result, but both she and the characters she played always came back for more, undaunted.
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