Betty Bronson

Elizabeth Ada Bronson (November 17, 1906 – October 19, 1971) was an American film and television actress who began her career during the silent film era.

Betty Bronson
Elizabeth Ada Bronson

(1906-11-17)November 17, 1906
DiedOctober 19, 1971(1971-10-19) (aged 64)
Years active1922–1971
Spouse(s)Ludwig Lauerhass

Early yearsEdit

Bronson was born in Trenton, New Jersey,[1] to Frank and Nellie Smith Bronson. She moved to East Orange, New Jersey and attended East Orange High School until she "convinced her parents to let her move to California to aid her career in films."[2] Subsequently, the entire family moved to California.[2]

Film careerEdit

Bronson began her film career at the age of 16 with a bit part in Anna Ascends.[3] At 17, she was interviewed by J. M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan. Although the role had been sought by such established actresses as Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford, Barrie personally chose Bronson to play the lead in the film adaptation of his work, which was released in 1924. She appeared alongside actresses Mary Brian (Wendy Darling) and Esther Ralston (Mrs. Darling), both of whom remained lifelong friends.

Bronson had a major role, that of Mary, mother of Jesus, in the 1925 silent film adaptation of Ben-Hur. In 1925, she starred in another Barrie story, A Kiss for Cinderella, an artfully made film that failed at the box office. She made a successful transition into sound films with The Singing Fool (1928), co-starring Al Jolson. She appeared in the sequel, Sonny Boy, with Davey Lee in 1929. She was the leading lady opposite Jack Benny in the romantic drama The Medicine Man (1930).

Bronson continued acting until 1933 when she married Ludwig Lauerhass, "a well‐to‐do North Carolinian",[4] with whom she had one child, Ludwig Lauerhass, Jr. She did not appear in films again until Yodelin' Kid from Pine Ridge (1937) starring Gene Autry. In the 1960s, she appeared in episodic television and feature films. Her last role was an uncredited part in the television biopic Evel Knievel (1971).

Bronson, the media and Douglas Fairbanks, JrEdit

Bronson was reclusive with the press, but received attention after being seen with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. He had his first boyhood crush on her, as he remembered in his autobiography The Salad Days:

Another important picture had just started. It was Peter Pan, directed by a clever caricature of a wildly temperamental movie director, Herbert Brenon. After exhaustive tests, Betty Bronson, a pretty and gifted girl in her middle teens, was given this famous role... I fell for Betty! It was my first intensely juvenile, deep-sighs-and-bad-sonnets love. It was not fully requited. She only flirted with me. My rival was a fellow in his twenties, a newspaperman who was to become one of New York's most respected theater critics, Richard Watts, Jr. ...In any event, I was so smitten with Betty, I could think of little else, except when I could call on her, even though her overprotective mother was always just in the next room.

It is known that Bronson kept all Fairbanks' letters and spoke of him fondly until her death.[citation needed]


On October 19, 1971, Bronson died after a protracted illness in Pasadena, California, and was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.[5][6]


The UCLA Library Special Collections department houses the "Betty Bronson papers, 1920-1970", containing "materials related to Bronson's career and includes clippings, photographs, correspondence, scrapbooks, and personal and professional ephemera."[7]


Year Film Role Notes
1922 Anna Ascends Bit part Uncredited, Lost film
1923 Java Head Janet Ammidon Lost film
The Go-Getter Bit part Uncredited, Lost film
His Children's Children Minor Role Uncredited, Lost film
The Eternal City Page Uncredited, Incomplete
Twenty-One Uncredited
1924 Peter Pan Peter Pan
1925 Are Parents People? Lita Hazlitt
Not So Long Ago Betty Dover Lost film
The Golden Princess Betty Kent Lost film
A Kiss for Cinderella Cinderella (Jane)
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ Mary Alternative title: Ben-Hur
1926 The Cat's Pajamas Sally Winton Lost film
Paradise Chrissie Lost film
Everybody's Acting Doris Poole Lost film
1927 Paradise for Two Sally Lane Lost film
Ritzy Ritzy Brown Lost film
Open Range Lucy Blake Lost film
Brass Knuckles June Curry
1928 The Singing Fool Grace
Companionate Marriage Sally Williams Alternative title: The Jazz Bride, Lost film
1929 The Bellamy Trial Reporter Incomplete
Sonny Boy Aunt Winigred Canfield
One Stolen Night Jeanne Lost film
A Modern Sappho
The Locked Door Helen Reagan
1930 The Medicine Man Mamie Goltz
1931 Lover Come Back Vivian March
1932 Midnight Patrol Ellen Gray
1937 Yodelin' Kid from Pine Ridge Milly Baynum Alternative title: The Hero from Pine Ridge
1961 Pocketful of Miracles Mayor's wife Uncredited
1962 Who's Got the Action? Mrs. Boatwright Uncredited
1964 The Naked Kiss Miss Josephine Alternative title: The Iron Kiss
1968 Blackbeard's Ghost Old Lady #1
1971 Evel Knievel Sorority House Mother Uncredited, (final film role)
Year Title Role Notes
1960 My Three Sons Mrs. Butler 1 episode
1964 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre 1 episode
Grindl Mrs. Cooper 1 episode
1965 Run for Your Life Alma Sloan 1 episode


  1. ^ McCaffrey, Donald W.; Jacobs, Christopher P. (1999). Guide to the Silent Years of American Cinema. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 53–54. ISBN 9780313303456. Retrieved October 9, 2017. Elizabeth Ada Bronson. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b Hanson, Bruce K. (2011). Peter Pan on Stage and Screen, 1904–2010, 2d ed. McFarland. pp. 127–128. ISBN 9780786486199. Retrieved October 9, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Williams, Mildred (November 30, 1924). "Betty Bronson Studied Hard to Become the Movie Peter Pan". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. p. 81. Retrieved October 8, 2017 – via CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)  
  4. ^ "Betty Bronson, '24 Peter Pan In Silent Film, Is Dead at 64". The New York Times. United Press International. October 22, 1971. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017. Retrieved October 9, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Resting Places
  6. ^ Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 38. ISBN 9780786409839. Retrieved October 9, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Betty Bronson papers, 1920-1970". Online Archive of California. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017. Retrieved October 9, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External linksEdit