Bebe Daniels

Active - 1916 - 2009  |   Born - Jan 14, 1901   |   Died - Mar 15, 1971   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Romance, Musical, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actress Bebe Daniels and the motion picture industry virtually grew up together. After touring with her stage-actor parents, Daniels made her film debut at age seven in the silent one-reeler A Common Enemy (1908). After unsuccessfully applying for a job as a Mack Sennett bathing beauty (she was well under the age of consent), Daniels secured a job at Hal Roach's comedy studio in 1915, co-featured with Roach's biggest (and only) star Harold Lloyd in a series of zany slapstick comedies. In 1919, Daniels was signed by producer-director Cecil B. DeMille to star in a group of slick, sophisticated feature films in the company of DeMille regulars Gloria Swanson and Thomas Meighan. Though successful in these glamorous ventures, Daniels found herself more at home in fast-moving comedy roles, in which she specialized while contracted with Paramount Pictures in the mid-1920s; the actress played everything from a female Zorro type in Senorita (1927) to a "lady Valentino" in She's a Sheik (1927). When talking pictures came around, Paramount dropped Daniels' contract, worried that she wouldn't be able to make the transition to sound. But Daniels surprised everyone by scoring a hit in RKO's expensive musical feature Rio Rita (1929), managing to keep her career in high gear until her last American film, Music Is Magic (1935). Upon her retirement from Hollywood, Daniels moved to England with her actor husband Ben Lyon in 1935. Enormously popular with London audiences, Daniels and Lyon starred in stage plays and films, and in the 1940s, headlined the successful radio series Life with the Lyons, which graduated to an even more successful TV program in the 1950s.

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