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Bebe Daniels
Daniels in 1925
Phyllis Virginia Daniels

(1901-01-14)January 14, 1901
DiedMarch 16, 1971(1971-03-16) (aged 70)
Resting placeHollywood Forever Cemetery
Other namesBebe Lyon
OccupationActress, dancer, singer, producer, writer
Years active1910–1961
Ben Lyon
(m. 1930; died 1971)
ChildrenBarbara Lyon
Richard Lyon (adopted, born Bryan Moore)

Phyllis Virginia "Bebe" Daniels (January 14, 1901 – March 16, 1971) was an American actress, singer, dancer, writer and producer.

She began her career in Hollywood during the silent film era as a child actress, became a star in musicals such as 42nd Street, and later gained further fame on radio and television in Britain. In a long career, Daniels appeared in 230 films.

Bebe Daniels was also in the 1913 silent movie The Heritage of the Desert, based on a novel by Zane Grey, playing the character Mescal.

Early life and career

Daniels was born Phyllis Virginia Daniels (Bebe was a childhood nickname) in Dallas, Texas. Her father was a travelling theater manager, Scottish-born Melville Daniel MacMeal who changed his name to Danny Daniels after a disagreement with his own father over his ambition to change from the medical profession to show business.[1] Her mother was a stage actress, born Phyllis de Forest Griffin, who was in Danny's travelling stock company when their child was born.[2] At the age of ten weeks her father proudly carried her on stage even though there was no part in the play for a baby.[3] The family moved to Los Angeles, California in her childhood, and she began her acting career at the age of four in the first version of The Squaw Man. The same year, she went on tour in a stage production of Shakespeare's Richard III. The following year, she participated in productions by Oliver Morosco and David Belasco.

By the age of seven, Daniels had her first starring role in film as the young heroine in A Common Enemy. At the age of nine, she starred as Dorothy Gale in the 1910 short film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. At the age of 14, she starred with film comedian Harold Lloyd in a series of two-reel comedies, starting with the 1915 film Giving Them Fits. The two eventually developed a publicized romantic relationship and were known in Hollywood as "The Boy" and "The Girl."[4]

In 1919, she decided to move to greater dramatic roles and accepted a contract offering from Cecil B. DeMille, who gave her secondary roles in Male and Female (1919), Why Change Your Wife? (1920), and The Affairs of Anatol (1921).

Adult career in Hollywood

Jackie Coogan"Nazimova" (actress)Gloria SwansonHollywood BoulevardPicture taken in 1907 of this junctionHarold LloydWill RogersElinor Glyn (Writer)"Buster" KeatonWilliam S. Hart (Two-Gun Bill)Rupert Hughes (Novelist)Roscoe "Fatty" ArbuckleWallace ReidDouglas FairbanksBebe Daniels"Bull" MontanaRex IngramPeter the hermitCharlie ChaplinAlice Terry (Actress)Mary PickfordWilliam C. deMilleCecil Blount DeMilleUse button to enlarge or cursor to investigate
This 1922 Vanity Fair caricature by Ralph Barton[5] shows the famous people who, he imagined, left work each day in Hollywood; use cursor to identify individual figures.

In the 1920s, Daniels was under contract with Paramount Pictures. She made the transition from child star to adult in Hollywood in 1922 and by 1924 was playing opposite Rudolph Valentino in Monsieur Beaucaire. Following this, she was cast in a number of light popular films, namely Miss Bluebeard, The Manicure Girl, and Wild Wild Susan. Paramount dropped her contract with the advent of talking pictures. Daniels was hired by Radio Pictures (later known as RKO) to star in one of their biggest productions of the year. She also starred in the 1929 talkie Rio Rita. It proved to be one of the more successful films of that year, Bebe Daniels became a star, and RCA Victor hired her to record several records for their catalog.

Radio Pictures starred her in a number of musicals including Dixiana (1930) and Love Comes Along (1930). Toward the end of 1930, Bebe Daniels appeared in the musical comedy Reaching for the Moon. However, by this time, musicals had gone out of fashion, and most of the musical numbers from the film had to be removed before it could be released. Daniels had become associated with musicals, and Radio Pictures did not renew her contract. Warner Bros. realized she was a box office draw, and she was offered a contract. During her years at Warner Bros., she starred in My Past (1931), Honor of the Family (1931), and the 1931 pre-code version of The Maltese Falcon. In 1932, she appeared in Silver Dollar (1932) and the successful Busby Berkeley choreographed musical comedy 42nd Street (1933) in which she sang once again. The same year, she played in Counsellor at Law. Her last film for Warner Bros. was Registered Nurse (1934).

Stalking incidents

In 1934, Daniels and Lyon garnered press attention while having to testify against Albert F. Holland, a 36-year-old World War I veteran with a history of stalking Daniels.[6] Holland had been under the delusion that he had attended school with Daniels and that they had married in Mexico in 1925. In 1931, he broke into Daniels' hotel room in San Francisco, confronting and terrifying her, and had to be removed by security. He was arrested and committed to the Arizona State Asylum. Holland escaped from the institution in 1932 and began sending over one hundred and fifty threatening letters to Daniels. Arrested once more, he was again placed in a psychiatric institution. Following his release, another confrontation took place and Holland was again arrested. A lengthy trial in Los Angeles took place, with Holland conducting most of his own defense, including a lengthy cross-examination of Daniels' husband, Ben Lyon. Actress Doris Kenyon, a friend of Daniels and Lyon, testified for the prosecution. Ultimately, the jury found Holland to be mentally unfit and he was committed to a psychiatric facility for an indefinite period. Daniels and Lyon subsequently moved to London.[7]

Career in London and later

Bebe Daniels retired from Hollywood in 1935 with her husband, film actor Ben Lyon, and their two children, and then she moved to London. In February 1939, Daniels and Lyon co-starred in a series of commercial radio shows, the Rinso Radio Revue, recorded in London for Radio Luxembourg.[8] They and Bebe's mother Phyllis all went back to the U.S. on 14 June 1939, leaving Barbara and Richard in Los Angeles in the care of Phyllis, and then returned to London seven weeks later. After the start of World War II, they worked for the BBC, most notably starring in the comedy radio series Hi Gang! Born from an idea by Ben, and with most of the dialogue by Bebe, it enjoyed considerable popularity. A few years later, Daniels starred in the London production of Panama Hattie in the title role originated by Ethel Merman. The couple remained in England through the days of The Blitz.

Publicity photo, circa 1924
Publicity photo, circa 1924

Following the war, Daniels was awarded the Medal of Freedom by Harry S Truman for war service. In 1945, she returned to Hollywood for a short time to work as a film producer for Hal Roach and Eagle-Lion Films. She returned to the UK in 1948 and lived there for the remainder of her life. Daniels, her husband, her son Richard and her daughter Barbara all starred in the radio sitcom Life with the Lyons (1951 to 1961), which later made the transition to television.

Personal life

Daniels married actor Ben Lyon in June 1930.[9] They had two children: daughter Barbara in 1932 and a son Richard (born Bryan Moore in 1935), whom they adopted from a London orphanage. In an issue of the contemporary magazine Radio Pictorial, she explained how she saw Richard peering through the railings and instantly thought "A brother for Barbara".[10]

Later years and death

Daniels suffered a severe stroke in 1963 and withdrew from public life. She suffered a second stroke in late 1970.[10] On March 16, 1971, Daniels died of a cerebral hemorrhage in London at the age of 70.[11] She died eight days after her co-star Harold Lloyd. Her remains were cremated at London's Golders Green Crematorium and the ashes returned to the United States; she was interred at the Chapel Columbarium at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Upon his death in 1979, Ben Lyon's remains were interred next to Daniels'.[12]

A biography Bebe and Ben was written by Jill Allgood, a personal friend who worked with them at the BBC.

Selected filmography

Short subjects
Year Title Role Notes
1910 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Dorothy Gale
1910 Justinian and Theodora
1911 A Counterfeit Santa Claus
1913 The Savage Bit part
1914 Anne of the Golden Heart
1915 Bughouse Bellhops
1915 Ruses, Rhymes and Roughnecks
1916 Lonesome Luke Leans to the Literary
1916 Luke, the Candy Cut-Up
1917 Bliss The Girl
1917 All Aboard The Girl
1918 The Non-Stop Kid Miss Wiggle
1918 Hey There! The Leading Lady
1918 Two-Gun Gussie The Girl
1918 Take a Chance The Hired Girl
1919 Going! Going! Gone! Miss Goulash
1919 Don't Shove Bebe
1919 Ask Father Switchboard operator
1924 Hello, 'Frisco Herself
Silent features
Year Title Role Notes
1919 Male and Female The King's Favourite
1919 Everywoman Vice Lost film
1920 Why Change Your Wife? Sally Clark
1920 The Dancin' Fool Junie Budd
1920 Sick Abed Nurse Durant
1920 You Never Can Tell Rowena Patricia Jones
1920 The Fourteenth Man Marjory Seaton Lost film
1920 Oh, Lady, Lady Mary Barber Lost film
1920 She Couldn't Help It Young Nance Lost film
1921 Ducks and Drakes Teddy Simpson
1921 Two Weeks with Pay Pansy O'Donnell/Marie La Tour Lost film
1921 The March Hare Lisbeth Ann Palmer Lost film
1921 One Wild Week Pauline Hathaway Lost film
1921 The Affairs of Anatol Satan Synne
1921 The Speed Girl Betty Lee Lost film
1922 Nancy from Nowhere Nancy Lost film
1922 A Game Chicken Inez Hastings Lost film
1922 North of the Rio Grande Val Hannon Lost film
1922 Nice People Theodora Gloucester Lost film
1922 Pink Gods Lorraine Temple Lost film
1922 Singed Wings Bonita della Guerda Lost film
1923 The World's Applause Corinne d'Alys Lost film
1923 The Glimpses of the Moon Susan Branch Lost film
1923 The Exciters Ronnie Rand Lost film
1923 Hollywood Herself (cameo) Lost film
1923 His Children's Children Diane Lost film
1924 Heritage of the Desert Mescal
1924 Daring Youth Alita Allen Lost film
1924 Unguarded Women Breta Banning Lost film
1924 Monsieur Beaucaire Princess Henriette
1924 Sinners In Heaven Barbara Stockley Lost film
1924 Dangerous Money Adele Clark Lost film
1924 Argentine Love Consuelo Garcia Lost film
1925 Miss Bluebeard Colette Girard
1925 The Crowded Hour Peggy Laurence Lost film
1925 The Manicure Girl Maria Maretti Lost film
1925 Wild, Wild Susan Susan Van Dusen Lost film
1925 Lovers in Quarantine Diana
1925 The Splendid Crime Jenny Lost film
1926 Miss Brewster's Millions Polly Brewster Lost film
1926 The Palm Beach Girl Emily Bennett Lost film
1926 Volcano! Zabette de Chavalons
1926 The Campus Flirt Patricia Mansfield Lost film
1926 Stranded in Paris Julie McFadden Lost film
1927 A Kiss In A Taxi Ginette Lost film
1927 Señorita Señorita Francesca Hernandez
1927 Swim Girl, Swim Alice Smith Lost film
1927 She's a Sheik Zaida Lost film
1928 Feel My Pulse Barbara Manning
1928 The Fifty-Fifty Girl Kathleen O'Hara Lost film
1928 Hot News Pat Clancy Lost film
1928 Take Me Home Peggy Lane Lost film
1928 What a Night! Dorothy Winston Lost film[13]
Sound films and television
Year Title Role Notes
1929 Rio Rita Rita Ferguson
1930 Love Comes Along Peggy Incomplete film
1930 Alias French Gertie Gertie Jones/aka Marie
1930 Dixiana Dixiana Caldwell
1930 Lawful Larceny Marion Dorsey
1930 Reaching for the Moon Vivien Benton
1931 My Past Miss Doree Macy
1931 The Maltese Falcon Ruth Wonderly
1931 Honor of the Family Laura Lost film
1932 Silver Dollar Lily Owens Martin
1933 42nd Street Dorothy Brock
1933 Cocktail Hour Cynthia Warren
1933 Counsellor at Law Regina "Rexy" Gordon
1933 The Song You Gave Me Mitzi Hansen
1933 A Southern Maid Juanita/Dolores
1934 Registered Nurse Sylvia 'Ben' Benton
1935 Music Is Magic Diane De Valle
1936 Treachery on the High Seas May Hardy Alternative title: Not Wanted on Voyage
1938 The Return of Carol Deane Carol Deane
1941 Hi Gang! The Liberty Girl
1947 The Fabulous Joe
1954 Life with the Lyons Bebe Lyon Alternative title: Family Affair
1955 The Lyons in Paris Bebe Alternative titles: Mr. and Mrs. in Paree
The Lyons Abroad
1955–1960 Life with the Lyons Bebe Lyon Unknown episodes
producer, writer

Selected radio performances

Year Title Role Notes
1939 Rinso Radio Revue Bebe Daniels Radio Luxembourg, with Ben Lyon, Tommy Handley and others
1941-1949 Hi Gang! Bebe Lyon BBC, with Ben, Barbara and Richard Lyon and Vic Oliver
1950-1961 Life with the Lyons Bebe Lyon BBC, with Ben, Barbara and Richard Lyon


  • Allgood, Jill (1975). Bebe and Ben. Robert Hale & Co. ISBN 978-0-709-14942-2.
  • Daniels, Bebe; Allgood, Jill (1950). 282 ways of making a salad with favorite recipes by British and American personalities and stars. Cassell & Co. OCLC 13066530.
  • Daniels, Bebe; Lyons, Ben (1953). Life with the Lyons, the Autobiography of Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon. Odhams Press. ASIN B0000CIGNZ.
  • Epting, Charles L. (2016). Bebe Daniels:Hollywood's Good Little Bad Girl. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co Inc. ISBN 978-1476663746.


  1. ^ Life with the Lyons pp. 21–22
  2. ^ Golden, Eve (2001). Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-7864-0834-4.
  3. ^ Bebe and Ben p.20
  4. ^ The Girl and The Boy, "Bebe and Harold Were A Perfect Match On and Off the Screen" by Tim Lussier
  5. ^ "When the Five O'Clock Whistle Blows in Hollywood". Vanity Fair. September 1922. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  6. ^ "Actor Ben Lyon, his wife, actress Bebe Daniels, and their friend, actress Doris Kenyon, during a trial for Albert F. Holland..." Calisphere. 1934. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  7. ^ Slide, Anthony (March 2, 2018). Magnificent Obsession: The Outrageous History of Film Buffs, Collectors, Scholars, and Fanatics. University Press of Mississippi. p. 111isbn=978-1496810533.
  8. ^ The Era, 16 February 1939
  9. ^ Donnelley 2003 p.191
  10. ^ a b Golden, Eve (2000). Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-786-48354-9.
  11. ^ Donnelley, Paul (November 1, 2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 301. ISBN 978-1-84449-430-9.
  12. ^ D'Agostino, Annette M. (2004). The Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia. McFarland. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-786-41514-4.
  13. ^ "What a Night (1928)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 5, 2012.

External links

This page was last edited on 17 October 2019, at 23:35
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