Bebe Daniels

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Bebe Daniels
Daniels in 1925
Phyllis Virginia Daniels

(1901-01-14)January 14, 1901
DiedMarch 16, 1971(1971-03-16) (aged 70)
London, England
Resting placeHollywood Forever Cemetery
Other namesBebe Lyon
  • Actress
  • dancer
  • singer
  • producer
  • writer
Years active1910–1961
(m. 1930)
Children2, including Barbara Lyon

Phyllis Virginia "Bebe" (/ˈbb/) Daniels (January 14, 1901 – March 16, 1971) was an American actress, singer, dancer, writer, and producer.

She began her career in Hollywood during the silent film era as a child actress, became a star in musicals such as Rio Rita, and later gained fame on radio and television in Britain. Over the course of her 50-year career, Daniels appeared in 230 films.

Early life and career[edit]

Daniels was born Phyllis Virginia Daniels (Bebe was a childhood nickname) in Dallas, Texas. Her father was a travelling theater manager, Scottish-born Melville Daniel MacNeal, who changed his name to Danny Daniels after a disagreement with his father over his ambition to change from the medical profession to show business.[3] Her mother was Phyllis de Forest Griffin, born in Colombia of an American father and a Colombian mother, a stage actress who was in Danny's travelling stock company when their child was born.[4][5] At the age of 10 weeks, her father proudly carried her on stage when there was no part in the play for a baby.[6]

The family moved to Los Angeles in her childhood, and she began her acting career at the age of 4 in the first version of The Squaw Man. The same year, she went on tour in a stage production of Shakespeare's Richard III. The following year, she participated in productions by Oliver Morosco and David Belasco.

By the age of 7, Daniels had her first starring role in film as the young heroine in A Common Enemy. At the age of 9, she starred as Dorothy Gale in the 1910 short film The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. At the age of 14, she was hired by comedy producer Hal Roach at $5 per day to star with Roach's star comedian Harold Lloyd in a series of one-reel comedies, starting with the 1915 film Giving Them Fits. Lloyd and Daniels eventually developed a romantic relationship that was well publicized; they were known in Hollywood as "The Boy" and "The Girl".[7]

In 1919, she declined to renew her contract with Hal Roach because she wanted to be a dramatic actress. She accepted an offer from producer-director Cecil B. DeMille, who gave her secondary roles in Male and Female (1919), Why Change Your Wife? (1920), and The Affairs of Anatol (1921).

Hollywood career[edit]

Jack CooganNazimovaGloria SwansonHollywood BoulevardPicture taken in 1907 of this junctionHarold LloydWill RogersElinor Glyn"Buster" KeatonBill HartRupert HughesFatty ArbuckleWallace ReidDouglas FairbanksBebe DanielsBull MontanaRex IngramPeter the hermitCharlie ChaplinAlice TerryMary PickfordWilliam C. deMilleCecil B. DeMilleUse button to enlarge or cursor to investigate
This 1922 Vanity Fair caricature by Ralph Barton[8] shows the famous people who, he imagined, left work each day in Hollywood; use cursor to identify individual figures.

In the 1920s, Daniels was under contract with Paramount Pictures. She made the transition from child star to adult in Hollywood in 1922, and by 1924, she was acting with Rudolph Valentino in Monsieur Beaucaire. Following this movie, she was cast in a number of light popular films, namely Miss Bluebeard, The Manicure Girl, and Wild Wild Susan. Paramount dropped her contract with the advent of sound movies. Daniels was hired by the new studio Radio Pictures (later known as RKO Radio) to star in its first feature, the Technicolor musical Rio Rita, co-starring the comedy team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey. Rio Rita turned out not to be RKO's inaugural film due to production delays, but it was still one of the more successful films of that year. Bebe Daniels became established as a musical star, and RCA Victor hired her to record several records for its catalog.

Radio Pictures starred her in a number of musicals, including Dixiana (1930) and Love Comes Along (1930). Toward the end of 1930, Daniels appeared in the musical comedy Reaching for the Moon, released through United Artists. However, by this time, musicals had gone out of fashion, and most of the musical numbers from the film had to be removed before it could be released. Daniels had become associated with musicals, and Radio Pictures did not renew her contract. Warner Bros. realized she was a box-office draw, and she was offered a contract. During her years at Warner Bros., she starred in My Past (1931), Honor of the Family (1931), and the 1931 pre-code version of The Maltese Falcon. In 1932, she appeared in Silver Dollar (1932) and the successful Busby Berkeley choreographed musical comedy 42nd Street (1933) in which she sang. The same year, she played in Counsellor at Law. Her last film for Warner Bros. was Registered Nurse (1934).

Stalking incidents[edit]

Daniels and Lyon during the trial of Albert Holland

In 1934, Daniels and husband Ben Lyon, whom she had married in June 1930, garnered press attention while having to testify against Albert F. Holland, a 36-year-old World War I veteran with a history of stalking Daniels.[9] Holland had been under the delusion that he had attended school with Daniels and that they had married in Mexico in 1925.[9] In 1931, he broke into Daniels' hotel room in San Francisco, confronting and terrifying her, and he had to be removed by security. He was arrested and committed to the Arizona State Asylum. Holland escaped from the institution in 1932, and he began sending more than 150 threatening letters to Daniels. Arrested again, he was placed in a psychiatric institution.

Following his release, another confrontation took place, and Holland was again arrested. A lengthy trial in Los Angeles took place, with Holland conducting most of his own defense, including a lengthy cross-examination of Daniels' husband Ben Lyon. Actress Doris Kenyon, a friend of Daniels and Lyon, testified for the prosecution. Ultimately, the jury found Holland to be mentally unfit, and he was committed to a psychiatric facility for an indefinite period. Daniels and Lyon then moved to London.[10]

Career in London and later[edit]

Daniels retired from Hollywood in 1935 with her husband, film actor Ben Lyon, and their two children, and moved to London. In February 1939, Daniels and Lyon co-starred in a series of commercial radio shows, the Rinso Radio Revue, recorded in London for Radio Luxembourg.[11] They and Bebe's mother Phyllis all returned to the U.S. on 14 June 1939, leaving their children in Los Angeles in the care of Phyllis, and returned to London seven weeks later. After the start of World War II, they worked for the BBC, starring in the comedy radio series Hi Gang!. Born from an idea by Ben, and with most of the dialogue by Bebe, it enjoyed considerable popularity. A few years later, Daniels starred in the London production of Panama Hattie in the title role. The couple remained in England through the days of The Blitz.

Publicity photo, circa 1924

Following the war, Daniels was awarded the Medal of Freedom by Harry S Truman for war service.[citation needed] In 1945, she returned to Hollywood for a short time to work as a film producer for Hal Roach and Eagle-Lion Films. She returned to the UK in 1948 and lived there for the remainder of her life. Daniels, her husband, her son Richard and her daughter Barbara all starred in the radio sitcom Life with the Lyons (1951 to 1961), which later made the transition to television.

Personal life[edit]

Daniels married actor Ben Lyon in June 1930.[12] They had two children: daughter Barbara in 1931 and a son Richard (born Bryan Moore in 1935), whom they adopted from a London orphanage. In an issue of the contemporary magazine Radio Pictorial, she explained how she saw Richard peering through the railings and instantly thought "A brother for Barbara".[13]

Daniels suffered a severe stroke in 1963 and withdrew from public life. She suffered a second stroke in late 1970.[13] On March 16, 1971, Daniels died of a cerebral hemorrhage in London at the age of 70.[14] Her remains were cremated at London's Golders Green Crematorium and the ashes returned to the United States; she was interred at the Chapel Columbarium at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Upon his death in 1979, Ben Lyon's remains were interred next to Daniels'.[15]

Selected filmography[edit]

Short subjects
Release date Title Role Notes
March 24, 1910 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Dorothy Gale Role disputed as credits are lost
December 29, 1910 Justinian and Theodora
December 21, 1911 A Counterfeit Santa Claus
January 21, 1913 The Savage Bit part
January 22, 1914 Anne of the Golden Heart Lucy Blake Lost film
November 1, 1915 Giving Them Fits Co-Worker
November 8, 1915 Bughouse Bellhops Lost film
December 15, 1915 Ruses, Rhymes and Roughnecks Lost film
January 5, 1916 Lonesome Luke Leans to the Literary Lost film
January 31, 1916 Luke, the Candy Cut-Up
March 15, 1916 Luke Pipes the Pippins Lost film
June 5, 1916 Luke Laughs Last Lost film
December 3, 1916 Luke's Movie Muddle
January 7, 1917 Luke's Lost Liberty Lost film
January 21, 1917 Luke's Busy Day Lost film
February 4, 1917 Luke's Trolley Troubles Lost film
March 18, 1917 Lonesome Luke's Lively Life
May 20, 1917 Lonesome Luke's Honeymoon Lost film
August 5, 1917 Lonesome Luke, Messenger The Girl
September 30, 1917 By the Sad Sea Waves
October 14, 1917 Bliss The Girl
October 28, 1917 Rainbow Island
November 11, 1917 The Flirt
November 25, 1917 All Aboard The Girl
April 28, 1918 Hey There! The Leading Lady
May 12, 1918 The Non-Stop Kid Miss Wiggle
May 19, 1918 Two-Gun Gussie The Girl
December 15, 1918 Take a Chance The Hired Girl
January 26, 1919 Going! Going! Gone! Miss Goulash
February 9, 1919 Ask Father Switchboard operator
March 30, 1919 Next Aisle Over Miss Paprika
April 6, 1919 A Sammy in Siberia Olga
May 4, 1919 Young Mr. Jazz The Girl
August 31, 1919 Don't Shove Bebe
November 2, 1919 Bumping into Broadway The Girl
September 24, 1924 Hello, 'Frisco Herself
Silent features
Year Title Role Notes
1919 Male and Female The King's Favourite
Everywoman Vice Lost film
1920 Why Change Your Wife? Sally Clark
The Dancin' Fool Junie Budd
Sick Abed Nurse Durant
You Never Can Tell Rowena Patricia Jones
The Fourteenth Man Marjory Seaton Lost film
Oh, Lady, Lady Mary Barber Lost film
She Couldn't Help It Young Nance Lost film
1921 Ducks and Drakes Teddy Simpson
Two Weeks with Pay Pansy O'Donnell/Marie La Tour Lost film
The March Hare Lisbeth Ann Palmer Lost film
One Wild Week Pauline Hathaway Lost film
The Affairs of Anatol Satan Synne
The Speed Girl Betty Lee Lost film
1922 Nancy from Nowhere Nancy Lost film
A Game Chicken Inez Hastings Lost film
North of the Rio Grande Val Hannon Lost film
Nice People Theodora Gloucester Lost film
Pink Gods Lorraine Temple Lost film
Singed Wings Bonita della Guerda Lost film
1923 The World's Applause Corinne d'Alys Lost film
The Glimpses of the Moon Susan Branch Lost film
The Exciters Ronnie Rand Lost film
Hollywood Herself (cameo) Lost film
His Children's Children Diane Lost film
1924 Heritage of the Desert Mescal
Daring Youth Alita Allen Lost film
Unguarded Women Breta Banning Lost film
Monsieur Beaucaire Princess Henriette
Sinners In Heaven Barbara Stockley Lost film
Dangerous Money Adele Clark Lost film
Argentine Love Consuelo Garcia Lost film
1925 Miss Bluebeard Colette Girard
The Crowded Hour Peggy Laurence Lost film
The Manicure Girl Maria Maretti Lost film
Wild, Wild Susan Susan Van Dusen Lost film
Lovers in Quarantine Diana
1926 The Splendid Crime Jenny Lost film
Miss Brewster's Millions Polly Brewster Lost film
The Palm Beach Girl Emily Bennett Lost film
Volcano! Zabette de Chavalons
The Campus Flirt Patricia Mansfield Lost film
Stranded in Paris Julie McFadden Lost film
1927 A Kiss in a Taxi Ginette Lost film
Señorita Señorita Francesca Hernandez
Swim Girl, Swim Alice Smith Lost film
She's a Sheik Zaida
1928 Feel My Pulse Barbara Manning
The Fifty-Fifty Girl Kathleen O'Hara Lost film
Hot News Pat Clancy Lost film
Take Me Home Peggy Lane Lost film
What a Night! Dorothy Winston Lost film[16]
Sound films and television
Year Title Role Notes
1929 Rio Rita Rita Ferguson Incomplete film, the version available is an edited 1932 re-release
1930 Love Comes Along Peggy Incomplete film
Alias French Gertie Gertie Jones/aka Marie
Dixiana Dixiana Caldwell
Lawful Larceny Marion Dorsey
Reaching for the Moon Vivien Benton
1931 My Past Miss Doree Macy
The Maltese Falcon Ruth Wonderly
Honor of the Family Laura Lost film
1932 Silver Dollar Lily Owens Martin
1933 42nd Street Dorothy Brock
Cocktail Hour Cynthia Warren
Counsellor at Law Regina "Rexy" Gordon
The Song You Gave Me Mitzi Hansen
A Southern Maid Juanita/Dolores
1934 Registered Nurse Sylvia 'Ben' Benton
1935 Music Is Magic Diane De Valle
1936 Treachery on the High Seas May Hardy Alternative title: Not Wanted on Voyage
1938 The Return of Carol Deane Carol Deane
1941 Hi Gang! The Liberty Girl
1947 The Fabulous Joe
1954 Life with the Lyons Bebe Lyon Alternative title: Family Affair
1955 The Lyons in Paris Bebe Alternative titles: Mr. and Mrs. in Paree
The Lyons Abroad
1955–1960 Life with the Lyons Bebe Lyon Unknown episodes
producer, writer

Selected radio performances[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1939 Rinso Radio Revue Bebe Daniels Radio Luxembourg, with Ben Lyon, Tommy Handley and others
1941-1949 Hi Gang! Bebe Lyon BBC, with Ben, Barbara and Richard Lyon and Vic Oliver
1950-1961 Life with the Lyons Bebe Lyon BBC, with Ben, Barbara and Richard Lyon


  • Allgood, Jill (1975). Bebe and Ben. Robert Hale & Co. ISBN 978-0-709-14942-2.
  • Daniels, Bebe; Allgood, Jill (1950). 282 ways of making a salad with favorite recipes by British and American personalities and stars. Cassell & Co. OCLC 13066530.
  • Daniels, Bebe; Lyons, Ben (1953). Life with the Lyons, the Autobiography of Bebe Daniels and Ben Lyon. Odhams Press. ASIN B0000CIGNZ.
  • Epting, Charles L. (2016). Bebe Daniels:Hollywood's Good Little Bad Girl. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co Inc. ISBN 978-1476663746.


  1. ^ Adams, Evangeline (January 1931). "How January Is Written in the Stars". The New Movie. p. 50. Retrieved July 16, 2023.
  2. ^ Fox, Charles Donald (1925). Famous Film Folk; A Gallery of Life Portraits and Biographies. New York: George A. Doran Company. p. 42. 1045380960.
  3. ^ Life with the Lyons pp. 21–22
  4. ^ Golden, Eve (2001). Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-7864-0834-4.
  5. ^ Epting, Charles (August 23, 2016). Bebe Daniels : Hollywood's good little bad girl. Jefferson, North Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4766-6374-6. OCLC 934885274.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  6. ^ Bebe and Ben p.20
  7. ^ The Girl and The Boy, "Bebe and Harold Were A Perfect Match On and Off the Screen" by Tim Lussier
  8. ^ "When the Five O'Clock Whistle Blows in Hollywood". Vanity Fair. September 1922. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Actor Ben Lyon, his wife, actress Bebe Daniels, and their friend, actress Doris Kenyon, during a trial for Albert F. Holland..." Calisphere. 1934. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  10. ^ Slide, Anthony (March 2, 2018). Magnificent Obsession: The Outrageous History of Film Buffs, Collectors, Scholars, and Fanatics. University Press of Mississippi. p. 111. ISBN 978-1496810533.
  11. ^ The Era, 16 February 1939
  12. ^ Donnelley 2003 p.191
  13. ^ a b Golden, Eve (2000). Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-786-48354-9.
  14. ^ Donnelley, Paul (November 1, 2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 301. ISBN 978-1-84449-430-9.
  15. ^ D'Agostino, Annette M. (2004). The Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia. McFarland. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-786-41514-4.
  16. ^ "What a Night (1928)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 5, 2012.

External links[edit]