Bebe Daniels

Bebe Daniels


Also Known As
Phyllis Daniels
Birth Place
Dallas, Texas, USA
January 14, 1901
March 16, 1971
Cause of Death
Cerebral Hemorrhage


A child star during the silent era who blossomed into a mature comedic and dramatic performer, Bebe Daniels made the rare smooth transition into talkies, only to retire from Hollywood in the mid-1930s while still in her prime. Daniels made her film debut at just four years old and was a star by the time she played Dorothy Gale in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (1910), the earliest survivin...

Family & Companions

Ben Lyon
Actor. Co-star in "Alias French Gertie"; married from June 14, 1930 until her death.


A child star during the silent era who blossomed into a mature comedic and dramatic performer, Bebe Daniels made the rare smooth transition into talkies, only to retire from Hollywood in the mid-1930s while still in her prime. Daniels made her film debut at just four years old and was a star by the time she played Dorothy Gale in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" (1910), the earliest surviving adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s novel. She later worked with star and lover Harold Lloyd on his Lonesome Luke series in the late-teens, before becoming a star at Paramount Pictures during the 1920s. She made a number of popular hits during the decade including "Why Change Your Wife?" (1920), "Affairs of Anatol" (1921), "Daring Youth" (1924) and "Monsieur Beaucaire" (1924), starring Rudolph Valentino. Following hits like "Miss Brewster’s Millions" (1926) and "She’s a Sheik" (1927), Daniels was dropped by Paramount at the beginning of the sound era. But she made a number of hits after making the transition, starring or co-starring in "Rio Rita" (1929), "Reaching for the Moon" (1931), "The Maltese Falcon" (1931), "Counsellor at Law" (1933) and the classic musical "42nd Street" (1933). She left Hollywood for London in 1935, where she and her husband, actor Ben Lyon, had successful careers on stage and screen, while becoming national heroes for entertaining audiences during The Blitz of World War II. Though not well-remembered by modern audiences, Daniels undoubtedly left an indelible mark during her time in Hollywood.

Born on Jan. 14, 1901 in Dallas, TX, Daniels was raised by her theater manager father and stage actress mother. After the family moved to Los Angeles, she began her acting career at four years old with an appearance in "The Squaw Man" (1906) and had her first starring role in "A Common Enemy" (1908). Daniels next played Dorothy Gale in the silent short "The Wonderful World of Oz" (1910), which was the oldest surviving film adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel of the same name. In 1915, she was hired by famed silent comedian Harold Lloyd to star opposite him in his Lonesome Luke series, starting with "Give Them Fits" (1915). Though she was only 14 years old at the time, Daniels embarked on an affair with Lloyd while starring in such two-reel comedies as "Bughouse Bellhops" (1915), "Lonesome Luke Leans to the Literary" (1916), "Luke’s Speedy Club Life" (1916) and "We Never Sleep" (1917). Because Lloyd was nicknamed "The Boy," Daniels was naturally called "The Girl," though by 1919 she split with the comedian in order to concentrate on dramatic roles.

Daniels skyrocketed to stardom after signing with Paramount Pictures to star in "Male and Female" (1919), directed by Cecil B. DeMille and co-starring Gloria Swanson. From there, she starred in a number of high-profile, sophisticated films like "Everywoman" (1919), "Why Change Your Wife?" (1920) and "Affairs of Anatol" (1921). Daniels stayed at Paramount through the 1920s and starred in nearly 50 films, many with such classic Jazz Age titles as "The Speed Girl" (1921), which was based on her own brush with the traffic laws, "Singed Wings" (1922), "Daring Youth" (1924) and "Sinners in Heaven" (1924). Daniels also starred as a French princess to Rudolph Valentino’s Duke of Chartes in Sidney Olcott’s "Monsieur Beaucaire" (1924), and went on to star in a number of popular films like "The Manicure Girl" (1925), "Miss Bluebeard" (1925) and "The Campus Flirt" (1926), where she effectively played a teenage girl despite being in her mid-twenties. Daniels next played a bored society woman who becomes a private detective in "Wild, Wild Susan" (1925) and a New York salesgirl stuck in Paris after a job falls through in the aptly titled "Stranded in Paris" (1926), which was made from a script by Herman J. Mankiewicz.

In a variation of George Barr McCutcheon’s oft-adapted novel, Daniels starred in "Miss Brewster’s Millions" (1926), where she played a movie extra trying to spend a million dollars in order to inherit five million. She went on to play the Rudolph Valentino role in "She's a Sheik" (1927), playing a Spanish-Arab woman determined to marry a Christian man. After the lost "Senorita" (1927), "Take Me Home" (1928) and "The Fifty-Fifty Girl" (1928), Daniels made her last silent film, "What a Night!" (1928), and was unceremoniously dropped from her contract by Paramount with the advent of sound. But she had the last laugh when Radio Pictures – later to be named RKO – cast her in the musical "Rio Rita" (1929), which proved to be the studios biggest hit up to that point. Unlike many of her silent contemporaries, Daniels made a fairly smooth transition to sound and developed into one of the most charming actresses of the early 1930s, adroitly performing in comedies, dramas and musicals.

Daniels freelanced from studio to studio, appearing in over a dozen talkies between 1929-1935, some of which lived on as classics of early Hollywood. She starred opposite Douglas Fairbanks in "Reaching for the Moon" (1931) and played the Brigid O’Shaughnessy character in the first adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s classic noir, "The Maltese Falcon" (1931). After the real-life inspired "Silver Dollar" (1932), she played secretary and secret admirer to John Barrymore’s successful lawyer in "Counsellor at Law" (1933). Daniels returned to musicals to play the star of a stage musical who breaks her ankle in the classic "42nd Street" (1933). From there, she went on to make the last of her Hollywood movies, including "Registered Nurse" (1934), before retiring from Hollywood the following year. Having married film star Ben Lyon in 1930, she moved with him to London, where they became successful radio and vaudeville stars, and were later hailed as national heroes when they stayed in London to entertain during The Blitz of WWII. Daniels was given the Medal of Freedom by Harry S. Truman for her service during the war.

After the war, Daniels and her family returned to the United States, where Lyon became a talent agent for 20th Century-Fox, helping to put Marilyn Monroe under contract, and Daniels worked for a brief time as a producer for Hal Roach. But they returned to London in 1948, where she would live the remainder of her life. While there, she made two films and the hit television show, "Life with the Lyons" (BBC/ITV, 1955-1960), which featured Daniels, Lyon and their two children, Richard and Barbara, in a scripted sitcom based on their real life events. The series was later used as the basis for the feature comedy, "The Lyons in Paris" (1955), where the family goes to Paris on holiday, only to suffer some lighthearted mayhem. After "Life with the Lyons" left the air in 1960, Daniels became a semi-invalid for the last 10 years of her life, having suffered a series of strokes, and later died of a cerebral hemorrhage at 70 years old. She was cremated in London and had her ashes interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery back in the States.

By Shawn Dwyer



Cast (Feature Film)

Life with the Lyons (1956)
Music Is Magic (1935)
Diane De Valle
Registered Nurse (1934)
Sylvia Benton
Cocktail Hour (1933)
Cynthia [Warren]
42nd Street (1933)
Dorothy Brock
Counsellor at Law (1933)
Regina "Rexy" Gordon
Silver Dollar (1932)
Lily Owens
My Past (1931)
Doree Macy
The Maltese Falcon (1931)
Ruth Wonderly
Honor of the Family (1931)
Reaching for the Moon (1931)
Vivian Benton
Dixiana (1930)
Lawful Larceny (1930)
Marion Corsey
Love Comes Along (1930)
Alias French Gertie (1930)
Rio Rita (1929)
Rita Ferguson
Feel My Pulse (1928)
Barbara Manning
What a Night (1928)
Dorothy Winston
Take Me Home (1928)
Peggy Lane
The Fifty-Fifty Girl (1928)
Kathleen O'Hara
Hot News (1928)
Pat Clancy
Swim, Girl, Swim (1927)
Alice Smith
A Kiss in a Taxi (1927)
She's a Sheik (1927)
Señorita (1927)
Señorita Francesca Hernández
Stranded in Paris (1926)
Julie McFadden
The Splendid Crime (1926)
The Palm Beach Girl (1926)
Emily Bennett
Volcano (1926)
Zabette de Chauvalons
The Campus Flirt (1926)
Patricia Mansfield
Miss Brewster's Millions (1926)
Polly Brewster
Lovers in Quarantine (1925)
Miss Bluebeard (1925)
Colette Girard
Wild, Wild Susan (1925)
Susan Van Dusen
The Crowded Hour (1925)
Peggy Laurence
The Manicure Girl (1925)
Maria Maretti
Dangerous Money (1924)
Adele Clark
Sinners in Heaven (1924)
Barbara Stockley
Argentine Love (1924)
Consuelo García
Unguarded Women (1924)
Breta Banning
Monsieur Beaucaire (1924)
Princess Henriette
The Heritage of the Desert (1924)
Daring Youth (1924)
Miss Alita Allen
His Children's Children (1923)
The World's Applause (1923)
Corinne d'Alys
The Glimpses of the Moon (1923)
Susan Branch
The Exciters (1923)
Ronnie Rand
Singed Wings (1922)
Bonita della Guerda
North of the Rio Grande (1922)
Val Hannon, his sweetheart
Nice People (1922)
Theodora [Teddy] Gloucester
The Game Chicken (1922)
Inez Hastings
Nancy From Nowhere (1922)
Pink Gods (1922)
Lorraine Temple
The Speed Girl (1921)
Betty Lee
The Affairs of Anatol (1921)
Satan Synne
The March Hare (1921)
Lizbeth Ann Palmer
One Wild Week (1921)
Pauline Hathaway
Ducks and Drakes (1921)
Teddy Simpson
Two Weeks With Pay (1921)
Pansy O'Donnell/Marie La Tour
The Dancin' Fool (1920)
Junie Budd
Why Change Your Wife? (1920)
Sally Clark
Sick Abed (1920)
Nurse Durant
The Fourteenth Man (1920)
Marjory Seaton
She Couldn't Help It (1920)
Nance Olden
You Never Can Tell (1920)
Rowena Patricia Jones
Oh, Lady, Lady (1920)
May Barber
Everywoman (1919)
Male and Female (1919)
The king's favorite
Going! Going! Gone! (1919)
Billy Blazes, Esq. (1919)
On the Fire (1919)
Be My Wife (1919)
Heap Big Chief (1919)
Bumping Into Broadway (1919)
Look Out Below (1919)
Count Your Change (1919)
Ask Father (1919)
Chop Suey & Co. (1919)
The Tip (1918)
Nothing But Trouble (1918)
Here Come the Girls (1918)
An Ozark Romance (1918)
Two-Gun Gussie (1918)
Bride and Gloom (1918)
Hear 'Em Rave (1918)
She Loves Me Not (1918)
Somewhere in Turkey (1918)
The Lamb (1918)
Hey There! (1918)
The Non-Stop Kid (1918)
Fireman Save My Child (1918)
Lonesome Luke, Plumber (1917)
Lonesome Luke on Tin Can Alley (1917)
Clubs Are Trump (1917)
Luke Wins Ye Ladye Faire (1917)
Lonesome Luke's Lively Life (1917)
Luke's Trolley Troubles (1917)
Love, Laughs and Lather (1917)
Lonesome Luke Loses Patients (1917)
Lonesome Luke, Lawyer (1917)
Luke's Speedy Club Life (1916)
Luke Pipes the Pippins (1916)
Luke's Washful Waiting (1916)
Luke Laughs Last (1916)
Luke and the Bomb Throwers (1916)
Luke's Society Mixup (1916)
Luke and the Bang-Tails (1916)
Luke's Preparedness Preparations (1916)
Luke and the Mermaids (1916)
Luke Rides Roughshod (1916)
Luke's Fireworks Fizzle (1916)
Luke's Shattered Sleep (1916)
Luke Does the Midway (1916)
Luke's Newsie Knockout (1916)
Luke, Rank Impersonator (1916)
Luke's Movie Muddle (1916)
Luke's Fatal Flivver (1916)
Luke and the Rural Roughnecks (1916)
Luke, Crystal Gazer (1916)
Luke, the Candy Cut-Up (1916)
Luke, the Gladiator (1916)
Lonesome Luke Lolls in Luxury (1916)
Luke's Double (1916)
Luke's Late Lunchers (1916)
Luke Foils the Villain (1916)
Luke's Lost Lamb (1916)
Luke, Patient Provider (1916)
Lonesome Luke, Circus King (1916)
Luke, the Chauffeur (1916)
Luke Joins the Navy (1916)
Lonesome Luke, Social Gangster (1915)
Giving Them Fits (1915)
Bughouse Bellhops (1915)
Ragtime Snap Shots (1915)
Peculiar Patients' Pranks (1915)
The Common Enemy (1910)
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1910)

Producer (Feature Film)

The Fabulous Joe (1947)
Ducks and Drakes (1921)
Presented By

Cast (Short)

Young Mr. Jazz (1919)
A Jazzed Honeymoon (1919)
Pistols for Breakfast (1919)
Spring Fever (1919)
The Marathon (1919)
A Sammy in Siberia (1919)
Captain Kidd's Kids (1919)
Next Aisle Over (1919)
Just Neighbors (1919)
Ring Up the Curtain (1919)
Pay Your Dues (1919)
The Big Idea (1918)
A Gasoline Wedding (1918)
Take a Chance (1918)
Look Pleasant, Please (1918)
Rainbow Island (1917)
By the Sad Sea Waves (1917)
Pinched (1917)
Lonesome Luke, Messenger (1917)
Move On (1917)
Bashful (1917)
Luke Locates the Loot (1916)

Life Events


First film as actress "The Common Enemy"


Signed by Paramount


Served ten days in jail for speeding


Fired by Paramount


Made first talkie, "Rio Rita"


London stage acting debut


Made last film, "The Lyons in Paris"


Suffered serious stroke


Movie Clip

Maltese Falcon, The (1931) -- (Movie Clip) Her Name's Wonderly Opening Hollywood’s first pass on Dashiell Hammett’s celebrated novel, Ricardo Cortez as a dandier Sam Spade of San Francisco, Una Merkel as his assistant Effie, eager to introduce a new client with an odd name (Bebe Daniels), Roy Del Ruth directing, in Warner Bros.’ The Maltese Falcon, 1931.
Maltese Falcon, The (1931) -- (Movie Clip) Trouble With Your Women Spade (Ricardo Cortez) has new client Ruth (Bebe Daniels) stashed in his pad when his paramour and new widow of his partner Iva Archer (Thelma Todd) arrives in a huff, in Warner Bros.' 1931 version of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon.
42nd Street (1933) -- (Movie Ciip) It's The Tight Shoes Guy Kibbee is Dillon the financier, swooning over Broadway diva star Dorothy (Bebe Daniels) at a party in her apartment, Ginger Rogers (as "Anytime Annie") with the best line, in 42nd Street, 1933.
42nd Street (1933) -- (Movie Ciip) Musical Comedy with Dancing! Brilliant Broadway grit, as temperamental director Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter) works his chorus line to collapse, Bebe Daniels as Dorothy with the Harry Warren/Al Dubin song, Guy Kibbee her clownish sugar-daddy and financier, in Warner Bros.' 42nd Street (1933).
Counsellor At Law (1933) -- (Movie Clip) Temporary Embarrassment Lawyer Simon (John Barrymore) in the morning rush of his Manhattan office receives Darwin (Melvyn Douglas) whom he doesn’t know well, but who proceeds to ask for a loan, then flirt with Mrs. Simon (Doris Kenyon) in the lobby, in William Wyler’s Counsellor At Law, 1933.
Counsellor At Law (1933) -- (Movie Clip) If You're Tired Of Living Empathetic lawyer Simon (John Barrymore), with employees (Isabel Jewell as “Bessie,” Bebe Daniels as “Rexy,”), is in a hurry to see ex-defendant Breitstein (John Qualen), for whom he justifiably faked an alibi years earlier, in Counsellor At Law, 1933, directed by William Wyler.
Counsellor At Law (1933) -- (Movie Clip) You And Your Cossacks Lawyer Simon (John Barrymore), in a jam because of an illegal good deed done years before, has little patience for Becker (future prominent director Vincent Sherman), a kid from his old neighborhood, who was beaten and charged by the cops for political speech, in Counsellor At Law, 1933.



Ben Lyon
Actor. Co-star in "Alias French Gertie"; married from June 14, 1930 until her death.