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Bebe Daniels, born Phyllis Virginia Daniels on January 14, 1901, in Dallas, Texas, was an American actress, singer, dancer, writer, and producer. She began her career in Hollywood during the silent film era and transitioned successfully into talkies. She appeared in over 230 films during her 50-year career. Daniels passed away on March 16, 1971.
Early Life and Silent Film Career
Daniels started her career as a child actress in Hollywood. At the age of seven, she was cast by Cecil B. DeMille in a small role. She worked for producer Hal Roach and starred in several Harold Lloyd comedies where she was credited for bringing much charm and success to those films. Notable silent films include "Miss Lulu Bett" (1921) and "Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall" (1924).
Transition to Talkies
Daniels was among the few silent film stars who seamlessly transitioned into talkies, showcasing her singing voice in addition to her acting skills. She starred in "Rio Rita" (1929), which was a huge hit and solidified her place as a star in the age of sound films.
Work Abroad and Radio Career
In the 1930s, Daniels moved to England with her husband, actor Ben Lyon, and found success in British films. Chief among her work there was "The Lyons in Paris" (1935). Her film career started to wind down in the late 1930s, but she didn't fade from the spotlight. Instead, she transitioned to radio and enjoyed a second wave of fame with the successful BBC radio show "Hi Gang!" which she did with Lyon.
Later Life and Legacy
Daniels and Lyon also worked on the radio series "Life with the Lyons" which eventually transitioned into television. Bebe wrote and produced these shows, which included their children. She is remembered today for her versatility and talent, along with her contributions to both the silent and early sound era of American cinema.
Daniels married actor Ben Lyon in 1930, and they had two children, Barbara and Richard. The couple remained together until her death.
Bebe Daniels died of a cerebral hemorrhage in London at the age of 70. Her legacy is preserved through her films and by those who remember her contributions during the formative years of Hollywood.
For those interested in exploring her work further, there are collections of her films available through various classic film distributors and some of her work may be found on streaming platforms that specialize in classic cinema.
To learn more in-depth about her life and work, you might consider reading biographies or scholarly works focused on the silent film era, such as "Hollywood be Thy Name: The Warner Brothers Story" or searching archives like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Margaret Herrick Library.