September 10, 1898
Midland, Texas, United States
|Died||April 26, 1986
London, England, United Kingdom
|Spouse(s)||William Hawks (1929–35) (divorced)|
|Children||Patricia (b. 1932)|
Bessie Love (September 10, 1898 – April 26, 1986) was an American motion picture actress who achieved prominence mainly in the silent films and early talkies. With a small frame and delicate features, she played innocent young girls, flappers, and wholesome leading ladies. Her role in The Broadway Melody (1929) earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. In addition to her acting career, she wrote the screenplay for the 1919 film A Yankee Princess.
Love was born Juanita Horton in Midland, Texas. She attended school in Midland until she was in the eighth grade, when her chiropractor father moved his family to Hollywood. Bessie graduated from Los Angeles High School and then received from her parents the graduation present of a trip around the United States. After six months of traveling, she finally returned home to Los Angeles.
The silent era
On actor Tom Mix's recommendation that she "get into pictures", Love's mother sent her to Biograph Studios, where she met pioneering film director D.W. Griffith. Griffith, who introduced Bessie Love to films, also gave the actress her screen name. He gave her a small role in his film Intolerance (1916). She also appeared opposite William S. Hart in The Aryan and with Douglas Fairbanks in The Good Bad Man, Reggie Mixes In, and The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (all 1916).
As her roles got larger, so did her popularity. She performed the Charleston in the film The King on Main Street in 1925. Also that same year she starred in The Lost World, a science fiction adventure based on the novel of the same name by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Three years later she starred in The Matinee Idol, a romantic comedy directed by a young Frank Capra.
The sound era
Love was able to successfully transition to talkies, and in 1929 she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Broadway Melody. She also appeared in several other early musicals including The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929), Chasing Rainbows (1930), Good News (1930), and They Learned About Women (1930).
However, by 1932, her American film career was in decline. She moved to England in 1935 and did stage work and occasional films there. As war came in Europe she returned to the US for a while, worked for the Red Cross, and entertained the troops. After the war, she moved back to Britain, and continued to work on the stage and play small roles in films, including The Barefoot Contessa (1954) with Humphrey Bogart, Ealing Studios' Nowhere to Go (1958), and The Greengage Summer (1961) starring Kenneth More. She also played small roles in the James Bond thriller On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) and in Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971). In addition to playing the mother of Vanessa Redgrave's titular character in Isadora (1968), Love also served as dialect coach to the actress.
Love married agent William Hawks (January 29, 1901 Neenah, Wisconsin – January 10, 1969 Santa Monica, California) at St. James Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California on December 27, 1929. Mary Astor, Carmel Myers, and Norma Shearer were among her bridesmaids; William's brother Howard Hawks and Irving Thalberg ushered. Mary Astor was William's sister-in-law, married to brother Kenneth Hawks. They then lived at the Havenhurst Apartments in Hollywood. They had a daughter, Patricia Hawks (February 19, 1932, Los Angeles, California), who had some bit parts in movies in 1952. They divorced in 1935.
During World War II in Britain, when Love found acting work hard to come by, she had been the "continuity girl" on the film drama San Demetrio London (1943), an account of a ship badly damaged in the Atlantic but whose crew managed to bring her to port. She also had regular diet in the postwar era of stage roles—often as an American tourist or such roles—performing in such productions as Love in Idleness (1944), Born Yesterday (1947), and as "Aunt Pittypat" in a large-scale musical version of Gone With the Wind (1972).
In 1977, she published an autobiography, From Hollywood with Love. At the time, she was living comfortably in a flat overlooking London's Clapham Common and had recently appeared in a television account of the abdication of King Edward VIII.
She was interviewed in the television documentary series Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film (1980).
Silent films: 1915–1928
|1916||The Flying Torpedo||Hulda||Triangle||Lost|
|1916||The Aryan||Mary Jane Garth||Triangle||Extant|
|1916||The Good Bad Man||Amy||Triangle||Extant|
|1916||Reggie Mixes In||Agnes||Triangle||Extant|
|1916||The Mystery of the Leaping Fish||The Little Fish Blower||Triangle||Extant|
|1916||Hell-to-Pay Austin||Briar Rose Dawson||Triangle||Lost|
|1916||A Sister of Six||Prudence||Triangle||Lost|
|1916||The Heiress at Coffee Dan's||Waffles||Triangle||Lost|
|1917||Nina, the Flower Girl||Nina||Triangle||Lost|
|1917||A Daughter of the Poor||Rose Eastman||Triangle||Lost|
|1917||The Sawdust Ring||Janet Magie||Triangle||Extant|
|1917||Wee Lady Betty||Wee Lady Betty||Triangle||Lost|
|1917||Polly Ann||Polly Ann||Triangle||Lost|
|1918||The Great Adventure||Rags||Pathé||Extant (BFI National Film and Television)|
|1918||How Could You, Caroline?||Caroline Rogers||Pathé||Lost|
|1918||A Little Sister of Everybody||Celeste Janvier||Pathé||Lost|
|1918||The Dawn of Understanding||Sue Prescott||Vitagraph||Lost|
|1919||The Enchanted Barn||Shirley Hollister||Vitagraph||Lost|
|1919||Carolyn of the Corners||Carolyn May Cameron||Pathé||Lost|
|1919||The Wishing Ring Man||Joy Havenith||Vitagraph||Lost|
|1919||A Yankee Princess||Patsy O'Reilly||Vitagraph||Lost|
|1919||The Little Boss||Peggy Winston (The Little Boss)||Vitagraph||Lost|
|1919||Cupid Forecloses||Geraldine Farleigh||Vitagraph||Lost|
|1919||Over the Garden Wall||Peggy Gordon||Vitagraph||Lost|
|1919||A Fighting Colleen||Alannah Malone||Vitagraph||Lost|
|1920||The Midlanders||Aurelie Lindstrom||Federated Film Exchanges||Lost; fragment found|
|1920||Bonnie May||Bonnie May||Federated Film Exchanges||Lost|
|1921||Penny of Top Hill Trail||Penny||Federated Film Exchanges||Lost|
|1921||The Honor of Ramirez (short)||Ramirez's Bride||Pathé|
|1921||The Spirit of the Lake (short)||Pathé|
|1921||The Swamp||Mary||Robertson-Cole||Extant (Gosfilmofond)|
|1921||The Sea Lion||Blossom Nelson||Associated Producers||Extant|
|1922||The Vermilion Pencil||Hyacinth||Robertson-Cole||Lost|
|1922||Forget Me Not||Ann, The Girl||Metro Pictures||Lost|
|1922||Bulldog Courage||Gloria Phillips||Clinton||Extant (BFI, London)|
|1922||The Village Blacksmith||Rosemary Martin, the Daughter||Fox||Incomplete (1 reel survives)|
|1922||Deserted at the Altar||Anna Moore (the country girl)||Phil Goldstone||Extant (Museum of Modern Art)|
|1923||Three Who Paid||John Caspar/Virginia Cartwright||Fox||Lost|
|1923||The Ghost Patrol||Effie Kugler||Universal||Lost|
|1923||Purple Dawn||Mui Far||Aywon/State's Rights||Lost|
|1923||Mary of the Movies||Herself||Columbia/Robertson-Cole|
|1923||Human Wreckage||Mary Finnegan||FBO||Lost|
|1923||The Eternal Three||Hilda Gray||Goldwyn||Lost|
|1923||St. Elmo||Edna Earle||Fox||Lost (silentera.com)|
|1923||Slave of Desire||Pauline Gaudin||Goldwyn||Extant (Cinémathèque Française)|
|1924||The Woman on the Jury||Grace Pierce||Asso. First National||Lost|
|1924||Those Who Dance||Veda Carney||Ince/Asso. First National||Lost|
|1924||The Silent Watcher||Mary, his wife||First National||Lost|
|1924||Sundown||Ellen Crawley||First National||Lost|
|1924||Tongues of Flame||Lahleet||Paramount||Lost|
|1925||The Lost World||Paula White||First National||Extant|
|1925||A Son of His Father||Nora Shea||Paramount||Lost|
|1925||New Brooms||Geraldine Marsh||Paramount||Lost|
|1925||The King on Main Street||Mary Young||Paramount||Extant|
|1926||The Song and Dance Man||Leola Lane||Paramount||Extant (Library of Congress, incomplete)|
|1926||Lovey Mary||Lovey Mary||MGM||Lost|
|1926||Meet the Prince||PDC||Lost|
|1926||Going Crooked||Marie||Fox||Extant (Museum of Modern Art)|
|1927||The American||Natural Vision Pictures||Supposedly never released|
|1927||Rubber Tires||Mary Ellen Stack||PDC||Extant|
|1927||A Harp in Hock||Nora Banks||Pathé||Lost (Arne Andersin's Lost Film Files)|
|1927||Amateur Night (short)||Uncredited||Warner Brothers/Vitaphone|
|1927||Dress Parade||Janet Cleghorne||Pathé||Extant|
|1928||The Matinee Idol||Ginger Bolivar||Columbia||Extant|
|1928||Sally of the Scandals||Sally Rand||FBO||Extant (Bois d'Arcy, France)|
|1928||Anybody Here Seen Kelly?||Mitzi Lavelle||Universal||Lost (Lost Film Files)|
Sound films: 1929–1983
|1929||The Broadway Melody||Hank Mahoney||MGM||Extant|
|1929||The Idle Rich||Helen Thayer||MGM||Extant|
|1929||The Hollywood Revue of 1929||Herself||MGM|
|1929||The Girl in the Show||Hattie Hartley||MGM||Extant|
|1930||Chasing Rainbows||Carlie Seymour||MGM||Extant|
|1930||They Learned About Women||Mary Collins||MGM||Extant|
|1930||Good News||Dixie O'Day||MGM||Extant (missing Technicolor ending)|
|1930||See America Thirst||Ellen||Universal||Extant (UCLA per IMDB and Library of Congress per their catalog)|
|1931||Morals for Women||Helen Huston||Tiffany||Extant|
|1936||I Live Again||Kathleen Vernon||National Provincial Film Distributors-UK|
|1941||Atlantic Ferry (a.k.a. Sons of the Sea)||Begonia Baggot||Warner Brothers|
|1945||London Scrapbook||Spectator Short Films|
|1945||Journey Together||Mrs. Mary McWilliams|
|1951||No Highway in the Sky||Aircraft passenger (uncredited)|
|1951||The Magic Box||Wedding group member|
|1954||Young and Willing||Prisoner|
|1954||The Barefoot Contessa||Mrs. Eubanks|
|1954||Beau Brummell||Maid (uncredited)|
|1955||Touch and Go||Mrs. Baxter|
|1957||The Story of Esther Costello||Matron in Art Gallery|
|1958||Next to No Time||Becky Wiener|
|1958||Nowhere to Go||Harriet P. Jefferson|
|1960||Too Young to Love||Mrs. Busch|
|1961||Loss of Innocence||American tourist|
|1961||The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone||Bunny|
|1963||The Wild Affair||Marjorie's Mother|
|1963||Children of the Damned||Mrs. Robbins, Mark's Grandmother|
|1964||I Think They Call Him John||Narrator||Samaritan Films|
|1965||Promise Her Anything||Pet Shop Customer|
|1966||The Poppy Is Also a Flower||Uncredited|
|1967||Battle Beneath the Earth||Matron|
|1967||I'll Never Forget What's'isname||American tourist|
|1969||On Her Majesty's Secret Service||American tourist||Eon-Danilag Productions|
|1971||Sunday Bloody Sunday||Answering Service Lady|
|1974||Mousey (a.k.a. Cat and Mouse)||Mrs. Richardson|
|1981||Ragtime||Old T.O.C. Lady|
|1981||Lady Chatterley's Lover||Flora|
- Folkart, Burt A. (29 April 1986). "Bessie Love, Silent Screen Actress Discovered in 1915, Dies at 87". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Kidd, Charles (1986). Debrett Goes to Hollywood. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 67. ISBN 0312005881.
- Obituary Variety, April 30, 1986.
- "Oscar History: 1930a". Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- Biography for Bessie Love at the Internet Movie Database
- Love 1977, p. 25
- "Bessie Love – Silent and Sound Film Actress". Golden Silents. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Love 1977, p. 140
- Bessie Love's appearance on This Is Your Life
- Love 1977, p. 125
- Love 1977, p. 136
- "London Garrick Theatre – Born Yesterday – Laurence Olivier". Retrieved 20 June 2014.
- Love 1977
- Brownlow, Kevin; Gill, David (1980). "The Man With The Megaphone". Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film. Episode 10. Thames Video Production. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT2u804FwEY. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
- Love 1977, p. 150
- Love 1977, p. 151
- Love 1977, p. 153
- Dickstein, Martin (24 February 1930). "The Cinema Circuit". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn). Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- Love 1977, p. 154
- Love 1977, p. 155
- Love 1977, p. 156
- Love, Bessie (1977). From Hollywood with Love: An Autobiography of Bessie Love. London: Elm Tree Books. OCLC 734075937.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bessie Love.|
- Bessie Love at the Internet Movie Database
- Bessie Love at AllMovie
- Bessie Love at Find a Grave
- Literature on Bessie Love