Some facts about BEBE DANIELS.
Bebe and her husband Ben Lyon were living in London during the Second World War. Bebe interviewed American troops for the radio series, “Stars and Stripes in Britain”, which was broadcast in America.
She performed for the troops. And she relayed battlefield reports after the Normandy landings, the first civilian woman in Normandy.
After the war, President Harry Truman awarded Bebe the Medal of Freedom,the highest award to honour civilian service during the war.
This was an actress who, by 1919, had made nearly 200 shorts for Hal Roach; who had a major career at Paramount in the 1920s; who adapted very well to Talkies, proving herself as an actress and singer in RIO RITA. Yet Paramount let her go.
She briefly worked at Radio Pictures in 1930 until Warner Brothers bought out her contract in 1931 and starred her in the first MALTESE FALCON and in FORTY SECOND STREET.
But,inexplicably, Warners seemed to lose interest in Bebe. She had married Ben Lyon in 1930 and Ben’s career wasn’t going well either. Both upped stakes and left for Britain with their baby daughter Barbara .(They later adopted son Richard)
They were an instant success in England,appearing on stage and on radio, and only returned to the States occasionally in the next few decades.
For a decade in the 1950s, , Bebe and Ben had a very successful BBC comedy radio show,”Life With the Lyons” in which their children also appeared. Bebe was one of the show’s writers.
Bebe and Ben both sang well, and on You Tube, you can listen to Bebe and Ben sing ‘There’s a Small Hotel”. And Bebe does a great version of “Deep Purple”.
When Bebe was the subject of “This Is Your Life” in 1954, Hal Roach,Harold Lloyd and Cecil B. DeMille paid tribute.
I have only seen a few Bebe Daniels films but each time she impressed me and I wondered why she wasn’t a bigger success in the 1930s. I ‘d like to see COCKTAIL HOUR (1933), with Randolph Scott.
By the time of her last Hollywood film in 1935, MUSIC IS MAGIC, she was already being cast as the older woman.as she had been in FORTY SECOND STREET. She was 34!
Born in Texas, Bebe’s family moved to Los Angeles and ,aged 9, Bebe was Dorothy in the 1910 short,THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, which can be seen at Archive.org.
At 14 Bebe was starring in two-reelers with Harold Lloyd.
Bebe’s costars in the 1920s included Valentino, William Powell, Richard Arlen and Warner Baxter.
Bebe costarred with Edward G. Robinson in SILVER DOLLAR ,but it didn’t help her career.
In 1921, Bebe spent 10 days in jail for speeding. Her mother insisted on being locked up with her! Hollywood cashed in on the publicity and starred her in THE SPEED GIRL
With John Boles, RIO RITA
A 1975 biography called ‘Bebe and Ben’ was written by Jill Allgood and is a good read though not a definitive account of their careers.
I’ll always remember Bebe performing the Al Dubin/Harry Warren song, ‘You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me’ in Forty Second Street, first in rehearsal with a pianist, then on stage in a nice dance routine with four chorus boys. A delightful scene.