Helen Chandler

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Helen Chandler
Helen Chandler as Mina Harker in Dracula (1931).
Born (1906-02-01)February 1, 1906
Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Died April 30, 1965(1965-04-30) (aged 59)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death surgical complications
Resting place Chapel Of The Pines Crematory
Years active 1927–1938
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 City 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, Mina Harker in Dracula (1931);[citation needed] she wanted to play Alice in Alice in Wonderland,.[citation needed] Chandler joined David Manners and Bela Lugosi in what became one of the most successful movies made at 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

Personal life[edit]

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.[1] 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[edit]

Helen Chandler figures prominently as a character in the 2014 time travel novel Hypocritic Days.



External links[edit]