George Brent (born George Brendan Nolan; 15 March 1904 – 26 May 1979) was an Irish-American stage, film, and television actor. He is best remembered for the eleven films he made with Bette Davis, which included Jezebel and Dark Victory.
George Brendan Nolan
15 March 1904
|Died||26 May 1979 (aged 75)|
Solana Beach, California, U.S.
|Years active||1924–1960, 1978|
Helen Louise Campbell
(m. 1925; div. 1927)
(m. 1932; div. 1934)
(m. 1937; div. 1937)
(m. 1942; div. 1943)
(m. 1947; death 1974)
Brent was born in Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland on March 15, 1904, to John J. and Mary (née McGuinness) Nolan. His father was a shopkeeper and his mother was a native of Clonfad, Moore, County Roscommon. In September 1915, he moved with his younger sister Kathleen to New York City. There, they joined their mother, who was living in the US after her separation from her husband.
Brent returned to Ireland in February 1921, during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1922), and was involved in the Irish Republican Army. During this period he also became involved with the Abbey Theatre.
He fled Ireland with a bounty set on his head by the British government, although he later claimed only to have been a courier for guerrilla leader and tactician Michael Collins. According to Ballinasloe Life (volume 2, issue 4, Oct/Nov 2012), the Irish War of Independence careers of three different men named George Nolan (Brent and two others; one from County Dublin and the other from County Offaly) were apparently conflated, which may explain some of the discrepancies regarding Brent's year of birth, life, and activities during the 1919 to 1922 period.
American stage careerEdit
He decided to become a professional actor. He made his Broadway debut in director Guthrie McClintic’s The Dover Road. He did numerous plays throughout the 1920s, including running several of his own stock companies. He appeared in productions of Abie's Irish Rose (on tour for two years), Stella Dallas, Up in Mabel's Room, Elmer the Great, Seventh Heaven, White Cargo and Lilac Time. He acted in stock companies at Elitch Theatre, in Denver, Colorado (1929), as well as Rhode Island, Florida, and Massachusetts. In 1930, he appeared on Broadway in Love, Honor, and Betray, alongside Clark Gable.
Early films: Fox and UniversalEdit
Brent moved to Hollywood and made his first film for 20th Century Fox, Under Suspicion (1930). He continued in supporting roles for Fox in Once a Sinner (1931), Fair Warning (1931), and Charlie Chan Carries On (1931).
It was followed by Week-End Marriage (1932) with Loretta Young, The Purchase Price (1932) with Stanwyck, Miss Pinkerton (1932) with Joan Blondell, The Crash (1932) with Chatterton, and They Call It Sin (1932) with Young.
He was top-billed in From Headquarters (1933) with Margaret Lindsay; then MGM borrowed him to play Myrna Loy's leading man in Stamboul Quest (1934). In September 1934, Chatteron filed for divorce.
Brent supported Josephine Hutchinson in The Right to Live (1935), Francis in Living on Velvet (1935) and Stranded (1935). He then made two films with Davis, where she was top billed: Front Page Woman (1935) and Special Agent (1935).
Brent appeared in The Goose and the Gander (1935) with Kay Francis, then was borrowed by RKO to make In Person (1935) with Ginger Rogers. At Warners he was top billed in the comedy Snowed Under (1936), then Walter Wanger borrowed him to play Madeleine Carroll's leading man in The Case Against Mrs. Ames (1936).
At Warners he was reunited with Davis in The Golden Arrow (1936) and Francis in Give Me Your Heart (1936). Columbia borrowed him to support Jean Arthur in More Than a Secretary (1936) then Warners gave him top billing in God's Country and the Woman (1936) with Margaret Lindsay.
Brent made Mountain Justice (1937) with Hutchinson and The Go Getter (1937) with Anita Louise. Warners then put Brent in his first male-orientated movie: Submarine D-1 (1937) with Pat O'Brien and Wayne Morris. In November 1937 he became an American citizen.
Warners put him in an action "B" film with Humphrey Bogart, Racket Busters (1938) then he was reunited with Francis in Secrets of an Actress (1938). He was in the military drama Wings of the Navy (1939) with de Havilland and John Payne.
Paramount borrowed him for Adventure in Diamonds (1940), where he had top billing over Isa Miranda. He was Merle Oberon's leading man in 'Til We Meet Again (1940), then starred in The Man Who Talked Too Much (1940) and South of Suez (1940). He supported Ann Sheridan in Honeymoon for Three (1941) and Davis in The Great Lie (1941).
Columbia borrowed him for the lead role in They Dare Not Love (1941) with Martha Scott and Edward Small used him in two films, International Lady (1941) with Ilona Massey and Twin Beds (1942) with Joan Bennett.
Brent made one final film with Davis, In This Our Life (1942), alongside de Havilland. He supported Stanwyck in The Gay Sisters (1942) and was top-billed in You Can't Escape Forever (1942) with Brenda Marshall and Silver Queen (1942) with Priscilla Lane.
In 1942, Brent, an accomplished pilot who had tried and, because of age, failed to enlist in the armed services, temporarily retired from films to teach flying as a civilian flight instructor with the Civilian Pilot Training Program, and later became a pilot in the US Coast Guard for the duration of the war.
His final film for Warner Bros. was My Reputation with Barbara Stanwyck, filmed from November 1943 to January 1944; except for previews for military audiences, it was not released until 1946. Brent acted on radio during this period.
While Brent returned to his acting career after WWII, he never recaptured his former popularity but during the immediate post war period he still remained a star of big budget films. RKO used him as Hedy Lamarr's leading man in Experiment Perilous (1944). For Hal Wallis he did The Affairs of Susan (1945) with Joan Fontaine then Tomorrow Is Forever (1946) at International with Claudette Colbert and Orson Welles.
He returned to RKO for The Spiral Staircase (1946), a huge success. At Universal he was teamed with Lucille Ball in Lover Come Back (1946), then he made Temptation (1946) with Oberon and Edward Small at International.
He went to Republic to star in Angel on the Amazon (1948) and in Universal's Red Canyon (1949) played the father of the star, Ann Blyth. At the same studio he was third lead in Illegal Entry (1949) then had the lead in a "B" The Kid from Cleveland (1949). He supported Colbert in Bride for Sale (1950) at RKO.
The budgets of Brent's films continued to shrink. He did two for Lippert Pictures: F.B.I. Girl (1951) and The Last Page (1952), the latter shot in England with Diana Dors. There was Montana Belle (1952) with Jane Russell then two for Monogram: Tangier Incident (1953) and Mexican Manhunt (1953).
Brent moved into television in the early 1950s guest starring in The Revlon Mirror Theater, Crown Theatre with Gloria Swanson, The Ford Television Theatre, Climax!, Fireside Theatre, Stage 7, Studio 57, Science Fiction Theatre, Celebrity Playhouse, Schlitz Playhouse and the religion anthology series, Crossroads.
He was cast in the lead in the 1956 television series Wire Service, which ran for 39 performances.
In 1960, Brent was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame with two stars. He received a motion-pictures star located at 1709 Vine Street and a second star located at 1612 Vine Street for his work in television.
Brent was married five times: to Helen Louise Campbell (1925–1927), Ruth Chatterton (1932–1934), Constance Worth (1937), Ann Sheridan (1942–1943), and Janet Michaels (1947–1974). Chatterton, Worth, and Sheridan were actresses; Chatterton and Sheridan were Warner Bros. players.
His final marriage to Janet Michaels, a former model and dress designer, lasted 27 years until her death in 1974. They had two children: a daughter, Suzanne (born August 3, 1950), and a son, Barry (born November 26, 1954).
Brent also had affairs with actresses Greta Garbo and Bette Davis, the latter a frequent Warner Bros. co-star.
|1924||The Iron Horse||Worker / Extra (uncredited)|
|1930||Under Suspicion||Inspector Turner|
|1931||Once a Sinner||James Brent|
|1931||Fair Warning||Les Haines|
|1931||Charlie Chan Carries On||Capt. Ronald Keane||Warner Oland|
|1931||Ex-Bad Boy||Donald Swift|
|1931||The Homicide Squad||Jimmy|
|1931||The Lightning Warrior||Alan Scott|
|1932||So Big!||Roelf Pool||Barbara Stanwyck|
|1932||The Rich Are Always With Us||Julian Tierney||Ruth Chatterton|
|1932||Week-End Marriage||Peter Acton|
|1932||The Purchase Price||Jim Gilson|
|1932||Miss Pinkerton||Police Inspector Patten|
|1932||The Crash||Geoffrey Gault|
|1932||They Call It Sin||Dr. Travers||Loretta Young|
|1933||Luxury Liner||Dr. Thomas Bernard|
|1933||42nd Street||Pat Denning||Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell|
|1933||The Keyhole||Neil Davis||Kay Francis|
|1933||Lilly Turner||Bob Chandler|
|1933||Baby Face||Trenholm||Barbara Stanwyck|
|1933||Female||Jim Thorne||Ruth Chatterton|
|1933||From Headquarters||Lieut. J. Stevens|
|1934||Stamboul Quest||Douglas Beall||Myrna Loy|
|1934||The Painted Veil||Jack Townsend||Greta Garbo|
|1935||The Right to Live||Colin Trent|
|1935||Living on Velvet||Terrence Clarence 'Terry' Parker||Kay Francis and Warren William|
|1935||Stranded||Mack Hale||Kay Francis|
|1935||Front Page Woman||Curt Devlin||’’Bette Davis|
|1935||Special Agent||Bill Bradford|
|1935||The Goose and the Gander||Bob McNear||Kay Francis|
|1935||In Person||Emory Muir|
|1936||Snowed Under||Alan Tanner|
|1936||The Case Against Mrs. Ames||Matt Logan|
|1936||The Golden Arrow||Johnny Jones|
|1936||Give Me Your Heart||Jim Baker|
|1936||More Than a Secretary||Fred Gilbert|
|1937||God's Country and the Woman||Steve Russett|
|1937||Mountain Justice||Paul Cameron|
|1937||The Go Getter||Bill Austin|
|1937||Submarine D-1||Lt. Commander Matthews|
|1938||Gold Is Where You Find It||Jared Whitney|
|1938||Jezebel||Buck Cantrell||Bette Davis|
|1938||Racket Busters||Denny Jordan|
|1938||Secrets of an Actress||Dick Orr|
|1939||Wings of the Navy||Cass Harrington|
|1939||Dark Victory||Dr. Frederick Steele||Bette Davis|
|1939||The Old Maid||Clem Spender||Bette Davis|
|1939||The Rains Came||Tom Ransome||Myrna Loy|
|1940||The Fighting 69th||"Wild Bill" Donovan||James Cagney|
|1940||Adventure in Diamonds||Capt. Stephen Dennett|
|1940||'Til We Meet Again||Dan Hardesty||Merle Oberon|
|1940||The Man Who Talked Too Much||Stephen M. Forbes|
|1940||South of Suez||John Gamble||Brenda Marshall|
|1941||Honeymoon for Three||Kenneth Bixby||Ann Sheridan|
|1941||The Great Lie||Peter Van Allen||Bette Davis|
|1941||They Dare Not Love||Prince Kurt von Rotenberg|
|1941||International Lady||Tim Hanley|
|1942||Twin Beds||Mike Abbott|
|1942||In This Our Life||Craig Fleming|
|1942||The Gay Sisters||Charles Barclay||Barbara Stanwyck|
|1942||You Can't Escape Forever||Steve Mitchell|
|1942||Silver Queen||James Kincaid|
|1944||Experiment Perilous||Dr. Huntington Bailey||Hedy Lamarr|
|1945||The Affairs of Susan||Roger Berton|
|1946||Tomorrow Is Forever||Lawrence Hamilton|
|1946||My Reputation||Major Scott Landis||Barbara Stanwyck|
|1946||The Spiral Staircase||Professor Warren||Dorothy McGuire|
|1946||Lover Come Back||William 'Bill' Williams Jr.|
|1947||Out of the Blue||Arthur Earthleigh|
|1947||The Corpse Came C.O.D.||Joe Medford|
|1947||Slave Girl||Matt Claibourne - aka Pierre|
|1947||Christmas Eve||Michael Brooks|
|1948||Luxury Liner||Captain Jeremy Bradford|
|1948||Angel on the Amazon||Jim Warburton||Vera Ralston|
|1948||Red Canyon||Matthew Bostel|
|1949||Illegal Entry||Chief Agent Dan Collins|
|1949||The Kid from Cleveland||Mike Jackson|
|1949||Bride for Sale||Paul Martin|
|1951||FBI Girl||Jeff Donley|
|1952||The Last Page||John Harman|
|1952||Montana Belle||Tom Bradfield|
|1953||Tangier Incident||Steve Gordon|
|1953||Mexican Manhunt||David L. 'Dave' Brady|
|1956||Death of a Scoundrel||O'Connell Party Guest (uncredited)||George Sanders|
|1978||Born Again||Judge Gerhard Gesell (final film role)|
|1935||A Dream Comes True (Documentary)||Himself|
|1938||Swingtime in the Movies||George Brent (uncredited)|
|1938||Lux Radio Theatre||The Girl from Tenth Avenue||Loretta Young|
|1938||Lux Radio Theatre||I Found Stella Parish||Herbert Marshall|
|1938||Lux Radio Theatre||Another Dawn||Madeleine Carroll|
|1939||Lux Radio Theatre||Mrs. Moonlight||Janet Gaynor|
|1939||Lux Radio Theatre||She Married Her Boss||Ginger Rogers|
|1939||Lux Radio Theatre||Only Yesterday||Barbara Stanwyck|
|1940||Lux Radio Theatre||The Rains Came||Kay Francis|
|1940||Lux Radio Theatre||Till We Meet Again||Merle Oberon|
|1940||Lux Radio Theatre||Wings of the Navy||Olivia de Havilland |
|1941||Lux Radio Theatre||Wife, Husband and Friend||Priscilla Lane|
|1942||Lux Radio Theatre||You Belong to Me||Merle Oberon|
|1943||Lux Radio Theatre||The Lady Is Willing||Kay Francis|
|1943||Lux Radio Theatre||My Friend Flicka||Roddy McDowall|
|1943||Lux Radio Theatre||Flight for Freedom||Rosalind Russell|
|1945||Lux Radio Theatre||The Affairs of Susan||Joan Fontaine|
|1946||Screen Guild Players||Experiment Perilous||Joan Bennett and Adolph Menjou |
|1947||Lux Radio Theatre||My Reputation||Barbara Stanwyck|
|1947||Lux Radio Theatre||The Other Love||Barbara Stanwyck|
|1953||Stars over Hollywood||Meet the Hero||n/a |
- "General Registrar's Office" (PDF). IrishGenealogy.ie. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
- Ballinasloe Life (Volume 2, Issue 4, Oct/Nov 2012 cache) Archived March 26, 2016, at the Wayback Machine; accessed 22 September 2015.
- Some sources have cited 1899, but most cite 1904.
- Scott O'Brien, George Brent - Ireland's Gift to Hollywood and its Leading Ladies (2014) BearManor; ISBN 978-1-59393-599-3 (paper back)/978-1-59393-764-5 (hard copy).
- Byrne, James Patrick; Coleman, Philip and King, Jason Francis. (2008). Ireland and the Americas, Vol 2., New York: ABC-CLIO. pp. 119-120.ISBN 978-1851096145
- Cozad, W. Lee. (2002). Those Magnificent Mountain Movies: (The Golden Years) 1911-1939, p. 160. Lake Arrowhead, CA: Rim of the World Historic Society. ISBN 978-0972337205
- Karney, Robyn. (1986). The Movie Stars Story, p. 48. New York: Crescent Books.ISBN 978-0517437360
- "George Brent" The Irish Times. The Irish Times 16 Mar 2000: 32.
- ""George Brent"". The Irish Times. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
- George Brent - Ireland's Gift to Hollywood and its Leading Ladies (2014) by Scott O'Brien
- GEORGE BRENT ONCE PLAYED SECRET AGENT IN REAL LIFE Los Angeles Times 12 Aug 1934: A4.
- George BRENT: HIS TRAVELS Picture Show; London Vol. 27, Iss. 701, (Oct 8, 1932): 18.
- THE LIFE STORY OF George Brent Picture Show; London Vol. 40, Iss. 1,035, (Feb 25, 1939): 18.
- George Brent, Suave Movie Veteran, Dies at 75 The Washington Post ]28 May 1979: C6.
- GEORGE BRENT JOINS WIFE IN FILM ROLE WALKOUT Los Angeles Times 27 Oct 1933: A10.
- Ruth Chatterton Files Suit to Divorce George Brent: R. CHATTERTON OF STAGE FAME SEEKS DIVORCE Sues George Brent in Los Angeles. Chicago Daily Tribune 18 Sep 1934: 3.
- Matthew Bernstein, Walter Wagner: Hollywood Independent, Minnesota Press, 2000 p.436 ISBN 978-0816635481
- George Brent Now a Citizen New York Times 27 Nov 1937: 21.
- George Brent Spent Early Years Amidst Danger and Thrills The Times of India 30 Dec 1939: 16.
- George Brent, Stage and Film Star, Dies at 75: Incomplete Source Oliver, Myrna. Los Angeles Times 28 May 1979: 1.
- Earle Brings New Idea; Ford to Do Big-Seller: 'Twin Beds' Plans Made Society Name Wins Lead Marie Wilson Role Set Paramount Casts Denning Bates Replaces Bainter Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times Feb 1941: 7.
- O’Brien, Scott George Brent: Ireland's Gift to Hollywood and Its Leading Ladies BearManor Media
- George Brent Seeks Army Job: Film Star Plans to Be Flying Instructor if He Passes Tests Los Angeles Times 26 Aug 1942: 18.
- Warner Bros. financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 26 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
- 'Bride for Sale' Has Claudette Colbert, Robert Young and George Brent in Leads A. W. New York Times 21 Nov 1949: 29.
- Drama: George Brent to Star in England; Don De Fore Chooses Deal on Stage Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 29 June 1951: B9
- briefly George Brent dies at 75 The Globe and Mail 28 May 1979: P.13.
- "Hollywood Walk of Fame - George Brent". walkoffame.com/. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
- Constance Worth, George Brent Wed The Washington Post 20 May 1937: 1.
- ANN SHERIDAN, GEORGE BRENT WED IN FLORIDA Chicago Daily Tribune 6 Jan 1942: 13.
- "About | Suzanne Brent". suzannebrent. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
- "George Brent, Movie Actor, Dies; Was Leading Man to Many Stars". The New York Times. 28 May 1979. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
- George Brent dies in Hollywood, news.google.com; accessed 22 September 2015.
- George Brent dies aged 75 The Irish Times 28 May 1979: 8.
- "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 42 (2): 38. Spring 2016.
- "Bennett, Brent, Menjou Star on "Screen Guild"". Harrisburg Telegraph. 12 October 1946. p. 17. Retrieved 1 October 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kirby, Walter (22 February 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved 23 June 2015 – via Newspapers.com.