Phyllis Virginia Daniels
January 14, 1901
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
|Died||March 16, 1971 (aged 70)|
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
|Other names||Bebe Lyon|
|Occupation||Actress, dancer, singer, producer, writer|
|Children||2, including Barbara Lyon|
Phyllis Virginia "Bebe" 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 further fame on radio and television in Britain. Over the course of her 50-year career, Daniels appeared in 230 films.
Early life and career
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 own father over his ambition to change from the medical profession to show business. 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. At the age of ten weeks her father proudly carried her on stage even though there was no part in the play for a baby. The family moved to Los Angeles, California in her childhood, and she began her acting career at the age of four 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 seven, Daniels had her first starring role in film as the young heroine in A Common Enemy. At the age of nine, 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 a day, to star opposite 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."
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).
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 was playing opposite Rudolph Valentino in Monsieur Beaucaire. Following this, 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 talking pictures. 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 most successful films of that year. Bebe Daniels became established as a musical star, and RCA Victor hired her to record several records for their catalog.
Radio Pictures starred her in a number of musicals including Dixiana (1930) and Love Comes Along (1930). Toward the end of 1930, Bebe 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 boxoffice 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 once again. The same year, she played in Counsellor at Law. Her last film for Warner Bros. was Registered Nurse (1934).
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. Holland had been under the delusion that he had attended school with Daniels and that they had married in Mexico in 1925. In 1931, he broke into Daniels' hotel room in San Francisco, confronting and terrifying her, and had to be removed by security. He was arrested and committed to the Arizona State Asylum. Holland escaped from the institution in 1932, and began sending more than 150 threatening letters to Daniels. Arrested once more, he was again 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 subsequently moved to London.
Career in London and later
Bebe 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. 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 originated by Ethel Merman. The couple remained in England through the days of The Blitz.
Following the war, Daniels was awarded the Medal of Freedom by Harry S Truman for war service. 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.
Daniels married actor Ben Lyon in June 1930. They had two children: daughter Barbara in 1932 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".
Daniels suffered a severe stroke in 1963 and withdrew from public life. She suffered a second stroke in late 1970. On March 16, 1971, Daniels died of a cerebral hemorrhage in London at the age of 70. 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'.
|Year||Title||Role||Notes or release date|
|1910||The Wonderful Wizard of Oz||Dorothy Gale||Role disputed as credits are lost|
|1910||Justinian and Theodora||December 29, 1910|
|1911||A Counterfeit Santa Claus||December 21, 1911|
|1913||The Savage||Bit part||January 21, 1913|
|1914||Anne of the Golden Heart||Lucy Blake||January 22, 1914|
|1915||Giving Them Fits||Co-Worker||November 1, 1915|
|1915||Bughouse Bellhops||November 8, 1915|
|1915||Ruses, Rhymes and Roughnecks||December 15, 1915|
|1916||Lonesome Luke Leans to the Literary||January 5, 1916|
|1916||Luke, the Candy Cut-Up||January 31, 1916|
|1916||Luke Pipes the Pippins||March 15, 1916|
|1916||Luke Laughs Last||June 5, 1916|
|1916||Luke's Movie Muddle||December 3, 1916|
|1917||Luke's Lost Liberty||January 7, 1917|
|1917||Luke's Busy Day||January 21, 1917|
|1917||Luke's Trolley Troubles||February 4, 1917|
|1917||Lonesome Luke's Lively Life||March 18, 1917|
|1917||Lonesome Luke's Honeymoon||May 20, 1917|
|1917||Lonesome Luke, Messenger||The Girl||August 5, 1917|
|1917||By the Sad Sea Waves||September 30, 1917|
|1917||Bliss||The Girl||October 14, 1917|
|1917||Rainbow Island||October 28, 1917|
|1917||The Flirt||November 11, 1917|
|1917||All Aboard||The Girl||November 25, 1917|
|1918||Hey There!||The Leading Lady||April 28, 1918|
|1918||The Non-Stop Kid||Miss Wiggle||May 12, 1918|
|1918||Two-Gun Gussie||The Girl||May 19, 1918|
|1918||Take a Chance||The Hired Girl||December 15, 1918|
|1919||Going! Going! Gone!||Miss Goulash||January 26, 1919|
|1919||Ask Father||Switchboard operator||February 9, 1919|
|1919||Next Aisle Over||Miss Paprika||March 30, 1919|
|1919||A Sammy in Siberia||Olga||April 6, 1919|
|1919||Young Mr. Jazz||The Girl||May 4, 1919|
|1919||Don't Shove||Bebe||August 31, 1919|
|1919||Bumping into Broadway||The Girl||November 2, 1919|
|1924||Hello, 'Frisco||Herself||September 24, 1924|
|1919||Male and Female||The King's Favourite|
|1920||Why Change Your Wife?||Sally Clark|
|1920||The Dancin' Fool||Junie Budd|
|1920||Sick Abed||Nurse Durant|
|1920||You Never Can Tell||Rowena Patricia Jones|
|1920||The Fourteenth Man||Marjory Seaton||Lost film|
|1920||Oh, Lady, Lady||Mary Barber||Lost film|
|1920||She Couldn't Help It||Young Nance||Lost film|
|1921||Ducks and Drakes||Teddy Simpson|
|1921||Two Weeks with Pay||Pansy O'Donnell/Marie La Tour||Lost film|
|1921||The March Hare||Lisbeth Ann Palmer||Lost film|
|1921||One Wild Week||Pauline Hathaway||Lost film|
|1921||The Affairs of Anatol||Satan Synne|
|1921||The Speed Girl||Betty Lee||Lost film|
|1922||Nancy from Nowhere||Nancy||Lost film|
|1922||A Game Chicken||Inez Hastings||Lost film|
|1922||North of the Rio Grande||Val Hannon||Lost film|
|1922||Nice People||Theodora Gloucester||Lost film|
|1922||Pink Gods||Lorraine Temple||Lost film|
|1922||Singed Wings||Bonita della Guerda||Lost film|
|1923||The World's Applause||Corinne d'Alys||Lost film|
|1923||The Glimpses of the Moon||Susan Branch||Lost film|
|1923||The Exciters||Ronnie Rand||Lost film|
|1923||Hollywood||Herself (cameo)||Lost film|
|1923||His Children's Children||Diane||Lost film|
|1924||Heritage of the Desert||Mescal|
|1924||Daring Youth||Alita Allen||Lost film|
|1924||Unguarded Women||Breta Banning||Lost film|
|1924||Monsieur Beaucaire||Princess Henriette|
|1924||Sinners In Heaven||Barbara Stockley||Lost film|
|1924||Dangerous Money||Adele Clark||Lost film|
|1924||Argentine Love||Consuelo Garcia||Lost film|
|1925||Miss Bluebeard||Colette Girard|
|1925||The Crowded Hour||Peggy Laurence||Lost film|
|1925||The Manicure Girl||Maria Maretti||Lost film|
|1925||Wild, Wild Susan||Susan Van Dusen||Lost film|
|1925||Lovers in Quarantine||Diana|
|1926||The Splendid Crime||Jenny||Lost film|
|1926||Miss Brewster's Millions||Polly Brewster||Lost film|
|1926||The Palm Beach Girl||Emily Bennett||Lost film|
|1926||Volcano!||Zabette de Chavalons|
|1926||The Campus Flirt||Patricia Mansfield||Lost film|
|1926||Stranded in Paris||Julie McFadden||Lost film|
|1927||A Kiss in a Taxi||Ginette||Lost film|
|1927||Señorita||Señorita Francesca Hernandez|
|1927||Swim Girl, Swim||Alice Smith||Lost film|
|1927||She's a Sheik||Zaida|
|1928||Feel My Pulse||Barbara Manning|
|1928||The Fifty-Fifty Girl||Kathleen O'Hara||Lost film|
|1928||Hot News||Pat Clancy||Lost film|
|1928||Take Me Home||Peggy Lane||Lost film|
|1928||What a Night!||Dorothy Winston||Lost film|
|1929||Rio Rita||Rita Ferguson||Incomplete film|
|1930||Love Comes Along||Peggy||Incomplete film|
|1930||Alias French Gertie||Gertie Jones/aka Marie|
|1930||Lawful Larceny||Marion Dorsey|
|1930||Reaching for the Moon||Vivien Benton|
|1931||My Past||Miss Doree Macy|
|1931||The Maltese Falcon||Ruth Wonderly|
|1931||Honor of the Family||Laura||Lost film|
|1932||Silver Dollar||Lily Owens Martin|
|1933||42nd Street||Dorothy Brock|
|1933||Cocktail Hour||Cynthia Warren|
|1933||Counsellor at Law||Regina "Rexy" Gordon|
|1933||The Song You Gave Me||Mitzi Hansen|
|1933||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|
Selected radio performances
|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.
- Life with the Lyons pp. 21–22
- Golden, Eve (2001). Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-7864-0834-4.
- Epting, Charles (August 23, 2016). Bebe Daniels : Hollywood's good little bad girl. Jefferson, North Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4766-6374-6. OCLC 934885274.
- Bebe and Ben p.20
- The Girl and The Boy, "Bebe and Harold Were A Perfect Match On and Off the Screen" by Tim Lussier
- "When the Five O'Clock Whistle Blows in Hollywood". Vanity Fair. September 1922. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
- "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.
- 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.
- The Era, 16 February 1939
- Donnelley 2003 p.191
- Golden, Eve (2000). Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-786-48354-9.
- Donnelley, Paul (November 1, 2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 301. ISBN 978-1-84449-430-9.
- D'Agostino, Annette M. (2004). The Harold Lloyd Encyclopedia. McFarland. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-786-41514-4.
- "What a Night (1928)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 5, 2012.