Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Miss Betty Bronson

I don't know who out of you all have seen the 1924 version of Peter Pan, but it is great. And what was one reason why it was so great? The star, Betty Bronson. She was so playful and fun that you really believed she was a young boy full of life. Pair that with Mary Brian as a beautiful little Wendy and Anna May Wong as Tiger Lily, win all around! If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Even if you aren't a silent film fan (which why are you reading this if you aren't?) it is still a wonderful film.

Betty Bronson was born Elizabeth Ada Bronson on November 17, 1906 in Trenton, New Jersey. Her parents were Frank and Nellie Bronson.

She got the acting bug early, but didn't begin to pursue a career until she was around 16 or 17 when she used her connections at Paramount Studios to get an interview with author J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan. She heard they were casting for the movie and she wanted to be part of it bad! Her perseverance paid off because she was personally selected by the author to star in the film adaptation of his book.

Betty did what many think is impossible, landed a starring role in a film which shot her to fame. She followed with an appearance in another big silent hit, 1925's Ben Hur.

Although she did make a smooth transition to the talkies, she didn't have quite the booming career that she used to in her silent days. She made great film choices though, appearing alongside big names like Al Jolson and Jack Benny.

She appeared off and on in films and tv for years after the 30s, and her last film appearance was in the 1970s in an uncredited role.

Sadly, Betty Bronson passed away at age 64 on October 19, 1971. She had gotten sick and she just gradually got worse.

She was buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale. (Sour note. I went to Glendale, but since I spent time sitting and "chatting" with Buster and Clara Bow, I didn't have a lot of time and the park was closing while looking for a few people's graves...Betty was one of them. Next time!)

Mary Pickford was up for the role of Peter Pan, which I can see and is understandable since she played younger roles. But Gloria Swanson also wanted the lead role. Now that I cannot imagine. I know Gloria was a Bathing Beauty and appeared in light comedies for Sennett for awhile, but I cannot picture her playing a young boy like Peter Pan. She is Norma Desmond for goodness sake!

Betty and her Peter Pan co-stars Mary Brian and Esther Ralston became close during filming, and continued to be their whole lives.

Betty only married once, in 1933 to Ludwig Lauerhass. They had one son, Ludwig Jr. No idea when or if they ever divorced. Betty wasn't too big on giving interviews.

Although much isn't known about her marriage to Ludwig, what is known is her relationship with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. They briefly dated, and she kept all the letters he wrote her and both had nothing but kind words to say about each other. She was his first crush! Too cute!


  1. Quite a few years ago I had the chance to see "Peter Pan" because a man from Eastman House came to our local University and he played the piano as the film was on. It was magical and everyuone clapped to bring Tinker bell to life...including me! It was enchanting. Too bad more people do not know about her..or so many others for that matter

  2. Oh the Eastman House...I dragged my two guy friends there with me because it was like coming to a haven lol That is so cool that people clapped along! Such a cute version. And I am pretty sure it was the first version.