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Elizabeth Ada "Betty" Bronson (November 17, 1906 – October 19, 1971) was an American film and television actress who began her career during the silent film era.
Elizabeth Ada Bronson
November 17, 1906
|Died||October 19, 1971 (aged 64)|
|Parent(s)||Frank and Nellie Smith Bronson|
Bronson was born in Trenton, New Jersey, 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." Subsequently, the entire family moved to California.
Bronson began her film career at the age of 16 with a bit part in Anna Ascends. 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 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", 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.
On October 19, 1971, Bronson died after a protracted illness in Pasadena, California, and was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. She was survived by her son, a brother, a sister, and two grandchildren.
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."
|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|
|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|
|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|
|1971||Evel Knievel||Sorority House Mother||Uncredited, (final film role)|
|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|
|1971||Evel Knievel||Sorority House Mother||Television film|
- 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.
- Hanson, Bruce K. (2011). Peter Pan on Stage and Screen, 1904–2010, 2d ed. McFarland. pp. 127–128. ISBN 9780786486199. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
- 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 Newspapers.com.
- "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.
- "Betty Bronson (1906 - 1971) - Find A Grave Memorial". www.findagrave.com. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
- Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 38. ISBN 9780786409839. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
- "Betty Bronson papers, 1920-1970". Online Archive of California. Archived from the original on October 9, 2017. Retrieved October 9, 2017.