Bebe Daniels

Bebe Daniels

Daniels in 1925
Born Phyllis Virginia Daniels
(1901-01-14)January 14, 1901
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Died March 16, 1971(1971-03-16) (aged 70)
London, England, UK
Cause of death Cerebral hemorrhage
Resting place Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Other names Bebe Lyon
Occupation Actress, dancer, singer, producer, writer
Years active 1910–1960
Spouse(s) Ben Lyon (m. 1930–71)
Children Barbara Lyon
Richard Lyon

Phyllis Virginia Daniels, known professionally as 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, Bebe Daniels appeared in 230 films.

Early life and career

Daniels was born Phyllis Virginia Daniels (Bebe was a childhood nickname) in Dallas, Texas. Her father was a theater manager and her mother a stage actress.[1] 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. That same year she also 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 fourteen she starred opposite 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."[2]

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 such films as Male and Female (1919), Why Change Your Wife? (1920), and The Affairs of Anatol (1921).

Later life and career

Jackie Coogan "Nazimova" (actress) Gloria Swanson Hollywood Boulevard Harold Lloyd Will Rogers Elinor Glyn (Writer) "Buster" Keaton William S. Hart (Two-Gun Bill) Rupert Hughes (Novelist) Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle Wallace Reid Douglas Fairbanks Bebe Daniels "Bull" Montana Rex Ingram Peter the hermit Charlie Chaplin Alice Terry (Actress) Mary Pickford William C. DeMille Cecil Blount DeMille Use button to enlarge or cursor to investigate
This 1921 Vanity Fair caricature by Ralph Barton[1] shows the famous people who, he imagined, left work each day in Hollywood; use cursor to identify individual figures.
  1. ^ Vanity Fair magazine September 1921, accessed 2009

In the 1920s, Daniels was under contract with Paramount Pictures. She made the transition from child star to adult in Hollywood by 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 most successful films of that year, and Bebe Daniels found herself 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 so that most of the musical numbers from the film had to be removed before it could be released. Daniels had become associated with musicals and so Radio Pictures did not renew her contract. Warner Bros. realized what a box office draw she was and offered her a contract which she accepted. During her years at Warner Bros. she starred in such pictures as My Past (1931), Honor of the Family (1931) and the 1931 pre-code version of The Maltese Falcon, which was eventually eclipsed by John Huston's legendary 1941 version with Humphrey Bogart. 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. That same year she played opposite John Barrymore in Counsellor at Law. Her last film for Warner Bros. was Registered Nurse (1934).

She retired from Hollywood in 1935. With her husband, film actor Ben Lyon, whom she married in 1930, she moved to London. A few years later, Daniels starred in the London production of Panama Hattie in the title role originated by Ethel Merman. The Lyons then did radio shows for the BBC. Most notably, they starred in the radio series Hi Gang!, continuing for decades and enjoying considerable popularity during World War II. Daniels wrote most of the dialogue for the Hi Gang radio show. The couple remained through the days of The Blitz.

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.[3] They had two children: daughter Barbara in 1932 and a son Richard whom they adopted.[4]

Later years and death

Daniels suffered a severe stroke in 1963 and withdrew from public life. She suffered a second stroke in late 1970.[4] On March 16, 1971, Daniels died of a cerebral hemorrhage in London at the age of 70.[5] 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.[6] Upon his death in 1979, Ben Lyon's remains were interred next to Daniels'.[7]

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!
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
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 Alternative title: Two Weeks Pay
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[8]
Sound films and television
Year Title Role Notes
1929 Rio Rita Rita Ferguson
1930 Love Comes Along Peggy
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


  1. Golden, Eve (2001). Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland. p. 18. ISBN 0-7864-0834-0.
  2. The Girl and The Boy, "Bebe and Harold Were A Perfect Match On and Off The Screen" by Tim Lussier
  3. Donnelley 2003 p.191
  4. 1 2 Golden, Eve (2000). Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland. p. 21. ISBN 0-786-48354-7.
  5. Donnelley, Paul (November 1, 2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 301. ISBN 1-84449-430-6.
  6. Bebe Virginia Daniels at Find a Grave
  7. D'Agostino, Annette M. (2004). The Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia. McFarland. p. 75. ISBN 0-786-41514-2.
  8. "What a Night (1928)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 5, 2012.

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