Heavy-built major star of the silent era, Bushman was once known as "the handsomest man in the world." He began acting with stock companies while still a boy, remaining a stage actor until he entered film in 1911, beginning with the Essanay company in Chicago. At one time a sculpter's model, Bushman had a beautiful physique which, combined with his handsome looks, soon propelled him to stardom in pre '20s silents; he rushed from one movie set to another, playing romantic leads in scores of films and becoming immensely popular with female viewers. His popularity took a nose-dive, however, after it was revealed that he had been secretly married to actress Beverly Bayne, his costar in many films including Romeo and Juliet (1916). He continued to perform in numerous films, leading up to his most famous role as the Roman Massala (Ramon Novarro's screen rival) in the silent Ben-Hur (1926). During the silent era he made more than a million dollars a year, but his fortune was entirely lost in the Crash of 1929. By the early '30s his film career was all but over, though he rebuilt himself financially by becoming a star of radio soap operas. After 1930 he appeared in films only sporadically, though some of his roles were still of interest. His last appearance was in a schlocky low-budget '60s production, The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966, the year of his death).