Thursday, July 28, 2011

Miss Evelyn Brent

It has always puzzled me how certain movie stars who I think are just drop dead gorgeous, never really reached the stardom that I think they deserved. Or more recognition rather. But, who I am to say? Just a lil blogger. Carole Landis. Olive Borden. My beloved Sharon Tate. These women were just perfection and they aren't really remembered today (except of course for Sharon who is more remembered for her murder). And, of course, case in point...Evelyn Brent. She has that smoldering look in her eye, and just the face of perfection. But, aside from us silent movie loving fans, she is all but forgotten. She was a beautiful, hard working lady who should be admired by all actors and actresses who follow after her.

Evelyn Brent was born Mary Elizabeth Riggs on October 20, 1899 in Tampa, Florida. She was known as Betty for most of her life, which is kinda hard to picture because we know her as sexy Evelyn Brent...not "Betty." But, there ya have it.

Her mother died when she was a child, so she was left in the care of her father up until she became a teenager. When she was old enough, she moved to New York City and found work as a model and eventually making her way into the movies. It's always the same ole story isn't it?

When she began working as an extra in movies, she was only making $3.00 a day! But, she enjoyed it, and kept at it, making films for a studio in New Jersey. She final made her big debut in 1915. It was after this film that she began going by her stage name of Evelyn Brent.

In 1922, she moved to Hollywood and the next year got nominated for a big honor at the time...WAMPAS Baby Star! She was in good company with Eleanor Boardman, Jobyna Ralston, and Kathleen Key (one of Buster's ladies who trashed his dressing room after he dumped her).  It was after she became a Baby Star that she was signed by Douglas Fairbanks. Unfortunately, no good roles came up, so she left and joined another studio.

She ended up making quite a few films before she made her first talkie in 1928, starring alongside William Powell. The film didn't do very well, but Evelyn was a strong willed woman because it did not slow her down. She kept on making films! She just kept working, whether or not it was in small, secondary roles or on the vaudeville stage. Eventually she ended up making poverty row pictures.

She finally retired from acting in films in 1950, but stayed in the business working as an agent for up and coming actors. She came out of her retirement in the 1960s to appear in an episode of Wagon Train.

Evelyn Brent passed away on June 4, 1975 of a heart attack in Los Angeles.

She was cremated and interred at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.

Evelyn was married three times. Her first husband was Bernard Fineman in 1922. They divorced in 1927. Her second husband was producer Harry Edwards. They were married from 1928 until 1948. Her last husband was actor Harry Fox, who she stayed married to until he died in 1959. She never had children.

Was Evelyn gay? Was she bi? Who knows? She never came out (pun intended) and confirmed anything but she was a frequent visitor of the Hollywood lesbian scene. It wasn't the most ideal time to come out as gay, so hey, if she was...she was! And she was in great company with other supposed lesbians Garbo, Nazimova...

She also supposedly had a fling with Gary Cooper. Who can blame her?

Her most memorable role was as Feathers McCoy in the 1927 gangster film, Underworld alongside Clive Brook and Larry Semon. Apparently the film was thought to be a flop, and was shelved for a few years before being released. It did way better than expected and actually won an Academy Award.

Interesting note, one of Evelyn's hobbies was creating hand carved furniture.


  1. Beautiful! Loved learning more about her! I so very often watch movies from that era, and love all there is about the era, but truly do not know very much about it. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Ever since I saw her picture in a book talking about "Underworld", I always thought she was very beautiful. Actually more beautiful than others in her day who were hyped for being beautiful. I always felt Evelyn was overlooked. I also thought she looked intelligent...maybe too much to handle for the average man. As for her sleeping with Gary Cooper...who didn't back then:). In fact she probably did Garbo too...ya never know:)

  3. She really was Birgit, and I agree that she was overlooked.

    I also agree about Cooper and Garbo. Like you said, who wouldn't?!