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Helen Chandler as Mina Harker in Dracula (1931).
February 1, 1906|
Charleston, South Carolina, United States
|Died||April 30, 1965
Hollywood, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Cyril Hume (1930–1934)
Bramwell Fletcher (1935–1940)
Walter Piascik (?-1965) (her death)
Helen Chandler (February 1, 1906 – April 30, 1965) was an American film and theater actress, best known for playing Mina Seward in the 1931 horror film Dracula.
Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Chandler began her acting career in New York at the age of nine and was on Broadway two years later in 1917. Her early performances include Arthur Hopkins' 1920 production of Richard III, which starred John Barrymore, Macbeth in 1921 with Lionel Barrymore; Hedvig in Henrik Ibsen's The Wild Duck in 1925 and Ophelia in the 1925 modern dress version of Hamlet starring Basil Sydney. By the time of her first film she had been in over twenty Broadway productions.
She made her film debut in 1927 in the silent film The Music Master and in 1930 joined Leslie Howard, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Beryl Mercer for the film version of the stage success Outward Bound. The unusual story told of a group of passengers on an ocean liner who gradually realise that they are all dead and will soon face the Last Judgment. Chandler, with her blonde hair and ethereal quality, was considered to be perfectly cast, and she received critical praise for her performance.
Chandler did not want to play the role for which she is probably best remembered, as Mina Harker in Dracula (1931); she wanted to play Alice in Alice in Wonderland,. Chandler joined David Manners and Bela Lugosi in what became one of the most successful movies made until that time. Chandler appeared with Manners that same year in the Lost Generation celebration of alcohol in Paris, The Last Flight, also starring Richard Barthelmess and John Mack Brown. She achieved more successes in A House Divided (1931) and Christopher Strong (1933), all the while dividing her time among films, radio work, and theater roles in Los Angeles, New York and London.
She starred in British actor Will Hay's 1934 movie, Radio Parade of 1935 and played a role on Lux Radio in Alibi Ike with Joe E. Brown (1937). Among her later stage successes were Within The Gates in 1934, Pride and Prejudice in 1935, Lady Precious Stream in 1936 with then-husband Bramwell Fletcher, a reprise of her role in Outward Bound in 1938 and various productions of Boy Meets Girl and Noël Coward's Tonight at 8:30
By the late 1930s she was battling alcoholism and her acting career declined. She was hospitalised several times but was unable to gain control over her life. In 1950, Chandler was severely burned in an apartment fire, caused by her falling asleep while smoking. She survived but her body was badly disfigured. Her alcoholism continued unabated after the accident. She died April 30, 1965 from cardiac arrest during surgery for a stomach ulcer in Hollywood, California. Her remains were cremated in accordance with her wishes, and are interred at Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles.
In Other Media
Helen Chandler figures prominently as a character in the 2014 time travel novel Hypocritic Days.
- The Music Master as Jenny
- The Joy Girl (1927) as Flora
- Mother's Boy (1929) as Rose Lyndon
- Salute (1929) as Nancy Wayne
- The Sky Hawk (1929) as Joan Allan
- Rough Romance (1930) as Marna Reynolds
- Outward Bound (1930) as Ann
- Mothers Cry (1930) as Beattie Williams
- Dracula (1931) as Mina Seward
- Daybreak (1931) as Laura Taub
- Salvation Nell (1931) as Nell Saunders
- The Last Flight (1931) as Nikki
- Fanny Foley Herself (1931) as Lenore
- A House Divided (1931) as Ruth Evans
- Vanity Street (1932) as Jeanie
- Behind Jury Doors (1932) as Elsa Lanfield
- Christopher Strong (1933) as Monica Strong
- Alimony Madness (1933) as Joan Armstrong
- Dance Hall Hostess (1933) as Nora Marsh
- Goodbye Again (1933) as Elizabeth Clochessy
- The Worst Woman in Paris? (1933) as Mary Dunbar
- Radio Parade of 1935 (1934) as Joan Garland
- Long Lost Father (1934) as Lindsey Lane
- Midnight Alibi (1934) as Abigail 'Abbie' Ardsley as a Girl
- Unfinished Symphony (1934) as Emmie Passeuter
- It's a Bet (1935) as Clare
- Mr. Boggs Steps Out (1938) as Oleander Tubbs
- Helen Chandler at the Internet Movie Database
- Helen Chandler at the Internet Broadway Database
- Helen Chandler at Find a Grave
- Helen Chandler Fansite
- Van Neste, Dan. ""Helen Chandler: Vision of Beauty"" Films of the Golden Age, Spring, 1998 .
- Fiore, David. Hypocritic Days Insomniac Press, 2014. Toronto Star review of the novel