Sunday, March 18, 2012

Silent Actress: Bebe Daniels.

Bebe Daniels (January 14, 1901 – March 16, 1971). Had already performed as a actor by the age of four in a stage production of Richard III. In the US, she had her first leading role at the age of seven and started her film career in movies for, Imperial and Pathe. At 14 she was hired by Hal Roach to star as Harold Lloyd's leading lady in his "Lonesome Luke" shorts. Lloyd, seriously considered marrying her, but.. she wanted a film career and they remained lifelong friends. Unlike.. many actors of her era, the arrival of sound was no problem for her. She had a beautiful singing voice and performed in the films:

Rio Rita (1929). Musical/comedy starring Bebe Daniels and John Boles along with the comedy team of Wheeler and Woolsey. The film is based on the 1927 stage musical produced by Florenz Ziegfeld, which originally united Wheeler and Woolsey as a team and made them famous. The film was the biggest and most expensive RKO production of 1929, but it was also the studio's biggest box office hit until King Kong (1933). Its finale was photographed in two-strip Technicolor. Rio Rita was chosen as one of the ten best films of 1929 by Film Daily.

My favorite Bebe Daniels film, 42nd Street(1933). Musical, directed by Lloyd Bacon with choreography by Busby Berkeley. The songs were written by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics), and the script was written by Rian James and James Seymour, with Whitney Bolton (uncredited), from the novel by Bradford Ropes. 42nd Street was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1934.

The story begins during the early days of the Depression, Broadway producers Jones and Barry put on a musical starring, Dorothy Brock. Her "sugar daddy," Abner Dillon is sponsoring the show and behind his back she dating the out of work actor, Pat Denning.

Julian Marsh, is hired to direct, But Marsh is broke as a result of the Stock Market Crash. Marsh, now must make his last show a major hit if he is to have enough money to retire on.

Cast selection and rehearsals begin and newcomer Peggy Sawyer, is dumped until, Lorraine Fleming takes her under her wing.

Rehearsals, continue for five weeks, until the night before the shows opening, when Brock breaks her ankle. Abner Dillon, wants Marsh to cast Ann Lowell, as the star. Annie does not feel ready to perform, but tells Marsh that Peggy Sawyer is.

Marsh rehearses Sawyer, until an hour before curtain time and the show is on with three Busby Berkeley numbers: Shuffle Off to Buffalo, I'm Young and Healthy, and the title song 42nd Street. The show is a success.

Fun Facts:

42nd Street's success permitted a higher budget and more elaborate production numbers in Warner's follow-up film to this one, Footlight Parade.

Her second cousin, Dr. Lee De Forest, "the father of sound", frequented the set of Rio Rita (1929) while she rehearsed. He was instrumental in improving the sound quality of the early talkies and significantly helped her career through his technical expertise.

While making a personal appearance at a Chicago hotel, several thousand dollars' worth of jewelry was stolen from Daniels' hotel room. Gangster Al Capone, a longtime Daniels fan, heard about it and put out the word that whoever stole the jewelry had 24 hours to return it "or else." The jewelry was returned the next day.

Daughter of actress Phyllis Daniels.

Her film The Speed Girl (1921) was made to capitalize on her ten-day jail sentence for multiple speeding tickets. The movie's poster shows her walking out of a jail cell.

Video: Bebe Daniels rehearses the number "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me" from the 1933 Busby Berkeley classic film 42nd Street.

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