Brenon came to the States as a teenager and was acting on stage in the 1900s. He began writing scripts for Carl Laemmle in 1909, and in 1912 he wrote, directed, and acted in All for Her. An admired director throughout the silent era, Brenon's notable triple-threat work of the teens includes Ivanhoe and the Theda Bara drama The Two Orphans. Brenon also directed Bara in The Kreutzer Sonata, The Clemenceau Case, and Sin, which he scripted. His other admired silent films include the Annette Kellerman vehicles Neptune's Daughter and A Daughter of the Gods (for which he was uncredited); War Brides with Alla Nazimova; Peter Pan with Betty Bronson; Beau Geste with Ronald Colman; The Great Gatsby with Warner Baxter; and Laugh, Clown, Laugh with Lon Chaney. He made a handful of talkies in Hollywood, then relocated to England in 1934, where he helmed several more films, among them the documentary Royal Cavalcade, before retiring in 1940.