Gary Carey, Doug & Mary: A Biography of Douglas Fairbanks & Mary Pickford [alternative spelling: Doug and Mary: A Biography of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford], E.P. Dutton: New York (1977), page 15:
She [Charlotte Pickford] started at the top [in looking for somebody to utilize her daugher Mary Pickford's acting talents] with playwright, director and producer David Belasco, the self-appointed high priet of American drama. In spite of his Jewish heritage, Belasco wore a clergyman's vest and collar, and once claimed he had been born in a San Francisco cellar "because there was no room in any hotel." It wasn't true, but he couldn't resist a biblical parallel anymore than he could resist a crucifix--dozens of medieval and Renaissance crosses lined the walls of his private office.
David Belasco was a charlatan, a great showman, the middle link in a tradition that starts with P. T. Barnum and ends with Cecil B. De Mille. He loved spectacle and glamor and beautiful women, and mixed them together in a series of skillfully-crafted, lurid melodramas that often centered on the sacredness of profane love. Scarlet ladies with golden hearts were his specialty, and though most of his Mary Magdalenes were redeemed by the final curtain, a few remained floozies to the core.