George Brent

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George Brent
George Brent 1-M-2004.jpg
Born George Patrick Brendan Nolan
(1904-03-15)15 March 1904
Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland
Died 26 May 1979(1979-05-26) (aged 75)[1]
Solana Beach, San Diego County, California, U.S.
Cause of death Emphysema
Occupation actor, singer
Years active 1924–1960, 1978
Spouse(s) Helen Louise Campbell (married 1925–1927)
Ruth Chatterton (married 1932–1934)
Constance Worth (married and divorced in 1937)
Ann Sheridan (married 1942–1943)
Janet Michaels (married 1947–1974, her death; 2 children)
Children Barry and Suzanne

George Brent (15 March 1904 – 26 May 1979) was an Irish stage, film, and television actor in American cinema.

Early life[edit]

Brent was born George Patrick Nolan in Ballinasloe, County Galway, the son of a shopkeeper.[2] During the Irish War of Independence (1919–1922), Brent was part of an IRA Active Service Unit as early as 1920, carrying out IRA directives.[3][4] He fled with a bounty set on his head by the British, although he claimed only to have been a courier for guerrilla leader and tactician Michael Collins.[3][5]


Brent returned to the United States in 1921.[6] Some time later touring with a production of Abie's Irish Rose.[3] During the next five years, he acted in stock companies in Colorado, Rhode Island, Florida, and Massachusetts.[3] In 1927, he appeared on Broadway in Love, Honor, and Betray, alongside Clark Gable.[3]

He eventually moved to Hollywood and made his first film, Under Suspicion, in 1930.[3][4] Over the next two years he appeared in a number of minor films produced by Universal Studios and Fox, before being signed to contract by Warner Brothers in 1932.[3] He would remain at Warner Brothers for the next twenty years, carving out a successful career as a top-flight leading man during the late 1930s and 1940s.[3][4]

Highly regarded by Bette Davis, he became her most frequent male co-star, appearing with her in thirteen films, including Front Page Woman (1935), Special Agent (1935), The Golden Arrow (1936), Jezebel (1938), The Old Maid (1939), Dark Victory (1939) and The Great Lie (1941). Brent also played opposite Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street (1933), Greta Garbo in The Painted Veil (1934), Ginger Rogers in In Person (1935), Madeleine Carroll in The Case Against Mrs. Ames (1936), Jean Arthur in More Than a Secretary (1936), Myrna Loy in Stamboul Quest (1934) and The Rains Came (1939), Merle Oberon in 'Til We Meet Again (1940), Ann Sheridan in Honeymoon for Three (1941), Joan Fontaine in The Affairs of Susan (1945), Barbara Stanwyck in So Big! (1932), The Purchase Price (1932), Baby Face (1933),The Gay Sisters (1942) and My Reputation (1946), Claudette Colbert in Tomorrow Is Forever (1946), Dorothy McGuire in The Spiral Staircase (1946), Lucille Ball in Lover Come Back (1946) and Yvonne De Carlo in Slave Girl (1947).[7]

Brent drifted into "B" pictures from the late 1940s and retired from film in 1953.[3] He continued to appear on television until 1960, having appeared on the religion anthology series, Crossroads. He was cast in the lead in the 1956 television series, Wire Service. In 1978, he made one last film, the made-for-television production Born Again.[3][4]

George Brent earned two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the first, at 1709 Vine St., for his film contributions, the second star, at 1614 Vine St., for his work in television.

Personal life[edit]

Brent, known as a womanizer in Hollywood, reportedly carried on a lengthy relationship with his frequent co-star Bette Davis. He was married five times: Helen Louise Campbell (1925–1927), Ruth Chatterton (1932–1934), Constance Worth (1937) and Ann Sheridan (1942–1943), with Chatterton, Worth, and Sheridan being actresses.[3][4] Chatterton and Sheridan were both fellow Warner Brothers players.[3] His final marriage to Janet Michaels, a former model and dress designer, lasted 27 years until her death in 1974. They had a son and a daughter.

In her final years, Bette Davis described her last meeting with Brent after many years of estrangement. Brent was suffering from fatal emphysema, and Davis later expressed great remorse at his ill health and sadness that such a virile and attractive man could have deteriorated so dramatically. Brent died shortly afterward in 1979 in Solana Beach in San Diego County, California.[8] He was seventy-five.


Feature films[edit]

Short subjects[edit]

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1953 Stars over Hollywood Meet the Hero[9]



  1. ^
  2. ^ George Brent - Ireland's Gift to Hollywood and its Leading Ladies (2014) by Scott O'Brien
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Byrne, James Patrick; Coleman, Philip and King, Jason Francis. (2008). Ireland and the Americas, Vol 2., New York: ABC-CLIO. pp.119-120
  4. ^ a b c d e Cozad, W. Lee. (2002). Those magnificent mountain movies: (the golden years) 1911-1939, p. 160. Lake Arrowhead, CA: Rim of the World Historic Society.
  5. ^ Karney, Robyn. (1986). The Movie Stars Story, p.48. New York: Crescent Books.
  6. ^ George Brent - Ireland's Gift to Hollywood and its Leading Ladies (2014) by Scott O'Brien
  7. ^ "George Brent (I) (1899–1979)." Accessed June 1, 2011.
  8. ^ Actor George Brent dies in Hollywood
  9. ^ Kirby, Walter (February 22, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved June 23, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read

External links[edit]

George Brent - Ireland's Gift to Hollywood and its Leading Ladies (2014) by Scott O'Brien BearManor ISBN 978-1-59393-599-3 (paperback) 978-1-59393-764-5 (hardback)