Bebe Daniels

b. Phyllis Daniels, 14 January 1901, Dallas, Texas, USA, d. 16 March 1971, London, England. As a tiny child Daniels appeared on stage in productions by her father, who managed a theatre company, and which starred her actress mother. She was in silent films from the age of nine and had made many films by the time that she signed a contract with Paramount Pictures, all this while attending a convent school. She became a tremendously popular leading lady, starring opposite big names such as Rudolph Valentino and making dozens of silent films. The advent of talking pictures served only to boost her career and she was successful in Rio Rita (1929), in which she also sang. Altogether, Daniels appeared in more than 200 films. Among these is Dixiana (1930), in which she plays opposite Metropolitan Opera House star Everett Marshall and which also features comics Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey although most interest lies in Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson’s dancing. She had a supporting role in 42nd Street (1933, also starring Warner Baxter, Ruby Keeler, George Brent and Dick Powell), while in Music Is Magic (1935, starring Alice Faye and Ray Walker), Daniels had one of her best roles as a fading movie star, even though she was only in her mid-thirties. As it happens, her real life film career was waning by this time and in 1936 she went to London with actor Ben Lyon, her husband since 1930. Daniels and Lyon became popular in the UK and when they opted to stay in bomb-ravaged London during World War II, their stock with the general public knew no bounds. From 1941 they had an immensely popular BBC radio show, Hi Gang! which also featured Vic Oliver, and a 1941 film, Hi Gang! was based on their radio series. After the war they returned to Hollywood but at the end of the 40s they were back in London where they began another popular radio show, Life With The Lyons (1954), in which their son and daughter also appeared. This show also spawned a 1955 television series and two indifferent films, Life With The Lyons (1954) and The Lyons In Paris (1955). Daniels not only performed on the radio and television shows, she was also deeply involved in the scripts. Poor health in the 60s curtailed Daniels’ activities during the final years of her life.

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