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Bebe Daniels

Bebe Daniels in 1925
Born Phyllis Virginia Daniels
January 14, 1901(1901-01-14)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Died March 16, 1971 (aged 70)
London, England, UK
Other name(s) Bebe Lyon
Occupation Actress, dancer, singer, producer, writer
Years active 1910–1960
Spouse(s) Ben Lyon (1930-1971)

Bebe Daniels (January 14, 1901 – March 16, 1971) was an American actress, singer, dancer, writer and producer. She began in Hollywood during the silent movie era as a child actress, and later gained fame on radio and television in England. Throughout her life, Bebe Daniels made over 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 Morosooa 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 Lonesome Luke 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

In the 1920s, Daniels was under contract with Paramount Pictures. She became an adult star 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, because it was commonly believed that only trained actors from the stage would be successful in the talkies. 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.

Photo of Bebe Daniels as she appeared in a magazine
Jackie Coogan "Nazimova" (actress) Gloria Swanson Hollywood Boulevard Picture taken in 1907 of this junction 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 shows the famous people who, he imagined, left work each day in Hollywood; use cursor to identify individual figures.

Radio Pictures starred her in a number of musicals including Dixiana (1930) and Love Comes Along (1930). Towards 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 Brothers realized what a box office draw she was and offered her a contract which she accepted. During her years at Warner Brothers she starred in such pictures as My Past (1931), Honor of the Family (1931) and the extremely successful 1931 pre-code version of The Maltese Falcon, which opened to rave reviews. 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. Her last film for the Warner Brothers 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 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.

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. She returned to England 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.


On March 16, 1971, Daniels died of a cerebral hemorrhage in London at the age of 70.[3] Her remains were cremated at London's Golders Green Crematorium and the ashes brought home where she was interred in the Chapel columbarium at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.


Year Film Role Notes
1910 The Courtship of Miles Standish
Justinian and Theodora
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Dorothy Gale
The Common Enemy
1911 A Counterfeit Santa Claus
1913 The Savage Bit part
1914 Anne of the Golden Heart
1915 Bughouse Bellhops
Giving Them Fits
Tinkering with Trouble
A Foozle at the Tee Party
Ragtime Snap Shots
Peculiar Patients' Pranks
Ruses, Rhymes and Roughnecks
Lonesome Luke, Social Gangster
Great While It Lasted
1916 Lonesome Luke Leans to the Literary
Luke Lugs Luggage
Lonesome Luke Lolls in Luxury
Luke, the Candy Cut-Up
Luke Foils the Villain
Luke and the Rural Roughnecks
Luke Pipes the Pippins
The Flirt
Lonesome Luke, Circus King
Them Was the Happy Days!
Luke and the Bomb Throwers
Luke's Late Lunchers
Luke Laughs Last
Luke's Fatal Flivver
Luke's Society Mixup
Luke's Washful Waiting
Luke Rides Roughshod
Luke, Crystal Gazer
Luke's Lost Lamb
Luke Does the Midway
Luke Joins the Navy
Luke and the Mermaids
Luke's Speedy Club Life
Luke and the Bang-Tails
Luke, the Chauffeur
Luke's Preparedness Preparations
Luke, the Gladiator
Luke, Patient Provider
Luke's Newsie Knockout
Luke's Movie Muddle
Luke, Rank Impersonator
Luke's Fireworks Fizzle
Luke Locates the Loot
Luke's Shattered Sleep
1917 Lonesome Luke's Lovely Rifle Moll
Luke's Lost Liberty
Luke's Busy Day
Luke's Trolley Troubles
Lonesome Luke, Lawyer
Luke Wins Ye Ladye Faire
Lonesome Luke's Lively Life
Lonesome Luke on Tin Can Alley
Lonesome Luke's Honeymoon
Lonesome Luke, Plumber
Stop! Luke! Listen!
Lonesome Luke, Messenger
Lonesome Luke, Mechanic
Lonesome Luke's Wild Women
Over the Fence
Lonesome Luke Loses Patients
By the Sad Sea Waves
Birds of a Feather
Bliss The Girl
From Laramie to London
Rainbow Island
Love, Laughs and Lather
The Flirt
Clubs Are Trump
All Aboard The Girl
We Never Sleep
Move On
The Big Idea
Step Lively
1918 The Tip
The Lamb
Hello Teacher
Hit Him Again
Beat It
A Gasoline Wedding
Look Pleasant, Please
Here Come the Girls
Let's Go
On the Jump
Follow the Crowd
Pipe the Whiskers
It's a Wild Life
Hey There!
Kicked Out
The Non-Stop Kid Miss Wiggle
Two-Gun Gussie The Girl
Fireman Save My Child
The City Slicker
Sic 'Em, Towser
Somewhere in Turkey A Girl in Danger
Are Crooks Dishonest? Miss Goulash
An Ozark Romance
Kicking the Germ Out of Germany
That's Him
Bride and Gloom Bride
Two Scrambled
Bees in His Bonnet
Swing Your Partners
Why Pick on Me?
Nothing But Trouble
Back to the Woods
Hear 'Em Rave
Take a Chance
She Loves Me Not
1919 Wanted - $5,000
Love's Young Scream
Going! Going! Gone! Miss Goulash
Ask Father Switchboard Operator
On the Fire
I'm on My Way
Look Out Below
The Dutiful Dub
Next Aisle Over
A Sammy in Siberia
Just Dropped In
Young Mr. Jazz
Crack Your Heels
Ring Up the Curtain Leading Lady
Si, Senor
Before Breakfast
The Marathon
Pistols for Breakfast
Swat the Crook
Off the Trolley
Spring Fever
Billy Blazes, Esq. Nell
Just Neighbors The Bride
At the Old Stage Door
Never Touched Me
A Jazzed Honeymoon
Count Your Change
Chop Suey & Co.
Heap Big Chief
Don't Shove Bebe
Be My Wife
The Rajah
He Leads, Others Follow
Soft Money
Count the Votes
Pay Your Dues
His Only Father
Bumping Into Broadway
Male and Female The King's Favourite
Captain Kidd's Kids
The Dancin' Fool Junice Budd
Why Change Your Wife? Sally Clark
Sick Abed Nurse Duran
You Never Can Tell Rowena Patricia Jones
The Fourteenth Man Marjory Seaton
Oh, Lady, Lady Mary Barber
She Couldn't Help It Young Nance
1921 Ducks and Drakes Teddy Simpson
Two Weeks with Pay Pansy O'Donnell/Marie La Tour
The March Hare Lisbeth Ann Palmer
One Wild Week Pauline Hathaway
The Affairs of Anatol Satan Synne
The Speed Girl Betty Lee
1922 Nancy from Nowhere Nancy
A Game Chicken Inez Hastings
North of the Rio Grande Val Hannon
Nice People Theodora (Teddy) Gloucester
Pink Gods Lorraine Temple
Singed Wings Bonita della Guerda
1923 The World's Applause Corinne d'Alys
The Glimpses of the Moon Susan Branch
The Exciters Ronnie Rand
His Children's Children Diane
1924 Daring Youth Alita Allen
The Heritage of the Desert Mescal
Daring Youth Alita Allen
Argentine Love Consuelo Garcia
Unguarded Women Breta Banning
Monsieur Beaucaire Princess Henriette
Sinners in Heaven Barbara Stockley
Hello, 'Frisco
Dangerous Money Adele Clark
1925 Wild, Wild Susan Susan Van Dusen
The Splendid Crime Jenny
Miss Bluebeard Colette Girard
The Crowded Hour Peggy Laurence
The Manicure Girl Maria Maretti
Lovers in Quarantine Diana
1926 The Palm Beach Girl Emily Bennett
Stranded in Paris Julie McFadden
Miss Brewster's Millions Polly Brewster
Volcano Zabette de Chavalons
The Campus Flirt Patricia Mansfield
1927 Swim Girl, Swim Alice Smith
She's a Sheik Zaida
A Kiss in a Taxi Ginette
Señorita Señorita Francesca Hernandez
Swim Girl, Swim Alice Smith
1928 The Fifty-Fifty Girl Kathleen O'Hara
What a Night! Dorothy Winston
Feel My Pulse Barbara Manning
Hot News Pat Clancy
Take Me Home Peggy Lane
1929 Rio Rita Rita Ferguson First talkie film
1930 Lawful Larceny Marion Dorsey
Reaching for the Moon Vivien Benton
Dixiana Dixiana Caldwell
Love Comes Along Peggy
Alias French Gertie Gertie Jones
1931 My Past Miss Doree Macy
The Maltese Falcon Ruth Wonderly
Honor of the Family Laura
1932 Radiogirl
Silver Dollar Lily Owens Martin
1933 The Song You Gave Me Mitzi Hansen
Counsellor at Law Regina "Rexy" Gordon
42nd Street Dorothy Brock
Music Is Magic Diane De Valle
Registered Nurse Sylvia 'Ben' Benton
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
Year Title Role Notes
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. pp. 18. ISBN 0-786-40834-0.  
  2. ^ The Girl and The Boy, "Bebe and Harold Were A Perfect Match On and Off The Screen" by Tim Lussier
  3. ^ Donnelley, Paul (November 1, 2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. pp. 301. ISBN 1-844-49430-6.  


  • The Times, Bebe Daniels American star who made a hit on British radio, March 17, 1971, Page 18.

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