On This Night…

On this night (of Sep. 5th) in 1920 Jack Pickford and his wife Olive Thomas dined with friends, including actress Mae Murray, in several hot spots in Paris.

They arrived to their hotel at Ritz at about 3 am (On Sep. 6th).

While Jack was asleep, Olive drank Mercury Bichloride, which she mistook for her sleeping medication, in alcohol.

Her screams woke Jack and he rushed to the bathroom, where Olive was at. He called for help and shoved egg whites, butter and milk down her throat to get her to vomit.

When paramedics arrived, they pumped her stomach while Jack held her.

When all failed, she was secretly rushed by ambulance to the American Military Hospital at Neuilly, just outside of Paris.

The Last Images of Olive. With husband Jack.
The Last Images of Olive. With husband Jack.


2 thoughts on “On This Night…

  1. I tried to post this before but not sure it went through. I was wondering if you knew why Jack chose that particular concoction. Was it spontaneous, or did the 911 operator recommend he do that? I’m asking because I was wondering if he was trying to neutralize the mercury. I’ve heard of ingesting milk to neutralize poisons (food poisoning as well as other kinds). Or he may have just wanted her to throw up. Strange thing to wonder. But I find your silent film tales intriguing and I wonder about them.

    I just looked it up. Milk is used to treat acid poisoning. The first thing you do in an acid poisoning case is make the person down a bunch of milk. Mercury bichloride is an acid. I knew it. When I read your story I thought, That was not a random mixture to make her vomit. That guy knew what he was doing. Calcium rich milk, like Tums, will neutralize the acid. Good move Jack! He knew his chemistry.


    1. On the side of the Mercury bottle, it states what to do if you happen to swallow it. It was extremely common for people to mistake the mercury for other medications, which is why they changed the pills to look like little blue coffins in the 20’s. Before they looked like Aspirin, which resulted in many tragic accidents!! Jack tried his hardest to save her.


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