Image of Eleanor Gates


Lifetime: 1874 - 1951 Passed: ≈ 72 years ago




United States

Eleanor Gates

Eleanor Gates was an American playwright who created seven plays that were staged on Broadway. Her best known work was the play The Poor Little Rich Girl, which was produced by her husband in 1913 and went on to be made as films for Mary Pickford in 1917 and for Shirley Temple in 1936.

Eleanor Gates was born on 26 September 1874 in Shakopee, Minnesota, southwest of Minneapolis. She later described her early life in her novel The Biography of a Prairie Girl. Gates married another playwright, Richard Walton Tully, in 1901 after they had both completed their studies at the University of California, in Berkeley. Gates had worked initially as a writer for a newspaper in San Francisco, as well as writing novels. In 1907, one of her novels was illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Her best known work was the play The Poor Little Rich Girl, which was produced by her husband in 1913. Tully divorced her in 1914 citing desertion, which Gates admitted.

Before Gates's divorce had been finalized, she married another divorcé, Frederick Ferdinand Moore, in Paterson, New Jersey, in October 1914. In 1916 they separated when they both realized that they were not legally married. At the time they both said they intended to remarry when it could be arranged. Moore later created Book Dealers' Weekly (1925).

At the beginning of 1915, Gates founded the Liberty Feature Film Company, which was said by Motion Picture News to be the only film company to be owned and managed by women. The company was led by the wife of an Alaskan businessman, Sadir Lindblom. In the year that it existed the company created several two reel films.

The first film, produced in 1917, was The Poor Little Rich Girl, which starred Mary Pickford. Shirley Temple starred in the 1936 remake of the same name. The film story, created to cash in on the talents of the eight-year-old Temple and the rights to the "changing places" story, was obtained for $40,000 to Gates and an additional $20,000 to Mary Pickford's company which had made the 1917 film. The new film had made two million dollars by the end of 1939.

Gates died on 7 March 1951 in Los Angeles County General Hospital.

Books by Eleanor Gates

The Biography of a Prairie Girl Cover image

The Biography of a Prairie Girl

Family Life

This book is a wonderful way to learn about how the prairies were years ago, but you will hardly feel you are learning because you will be caught up with the 'little girl', living with her as she grows up far away from any large city. Very well writt...

The Poor Little Rich Girl Cover image

The Poor Little Rich Girl

Fantasy Fiction
Children's Literature

The Poor Little Rich Girl is a children’s fantasy about a little girl named Gwendolyn who is lonely and longs for a friend. But she is isolated by rich parents who ignore her and left to the care of servants who are indifferent. Her nanny’s carelessn...