Mary Brian Poster


Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (4) | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (5)

Born in Corsicana, Texas, USA
Died in Del Mar, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameLouise Byrdie Dantzler
Nickname The Sweetest Girl in Pictures
Height 5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Dubbed "The Sweetest Girl in Pictures", Mary Brian started life as Louise Byrdie Datzler. She was born in Corsicana, Texas, and went to high school in Dallas. Her widowed mother had big plans for young Louise and took her to California in 1923, with the intention of getting her into the film business. After several unsuccessful attempts, a bathing beauty competition in Long Beach resulted in a second-prize letter of introduction to Herbert Brenon at Paramount and the girl with the dark brown curls and blue/gray eyes wound up being screen-tested for the role of Wendy in Peter Pan (1924), co-starring Betty Bronson and Esther Ralston (with whom she would form lifelong friendships). She got not only got the part but a five-year contract with Paramount (1925-30) and a new name.

In 1926 she became one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars, which further enhanced her popularity. During the next few years she played ornamental leads and second leads as adolescent heroines, co-eds and ingénues. Many of those early silent features no longer exist today (Paris at Midnight (1926), among others), though surviving reels of some, like The Air Mail (1925), can still be accessed at the Library of Congress. Mary effortlessly made the transition from silents to talkies, co-starring with Gary Cooper as a feisty schoolmarm on the frontier in The Virginian (1929). One of her biggest hits was as Gwen Cavendish in the urbane comedy The Royal Family of Broadway (1930), with Ina Claire and Fredric March. A thinly disguised caricature of the private lives of the Barrymore dynasty, it hit the mark to the extent that Ethel Barrymore even threatened to sue Paramount. Mary acted three times opposite W.C. Fields, first as his daughter in Running Wild (1927), later reprising her role for The Man on the Flying Trapeze (1934) (the third was Two Flaming Youths (1927), another lost film).

Signing up for another four-year contract, Mary was one of the all-star cast in the musical Paramount on Parade (1930) and then was given another good part in the first talkie version of The Front Page (1931). However, she was dropped from her contract (alongside her more illustrious colleagues Fay Wray and Jean Arthur) when Paramount began to forsake innocence and charm in favor of glamor and sophistication. From 1932 Mary freelanced and also performed occasionally in vaudeville at the Palace Theater. Arguably her last good picture was the romantic comedy Hard to Handle (1933), with James Cagney as a grifter (hilariously promoting grapefruit diets, spoofing his infamous scene with Mae Clarke in The Public Enemy (1931)). In 1936 Mary went to England, where she co-starred opposite Cary Grant in The Amazing Adventure (1936). She then made several pictures for Poverty Row companies such as Majestic and Monogram, including the low-budget potboiler I Escaped from the Gestapo (1943).

Mary's motion picture career faded after 1937 and she turned towards the stage. In 1940 she went on tour with "Three after Three" , alongside Simone Simon and Mitzi Green and later entertained American troops in the South Pacific as part of the USO. In the 1950's, she enjoyed a brief resurgence on television as the mother of a "Gidget"-type teen in the syndicated sitcom Meet Corliss Archer (1954). After the death of her second husband, the film editor George Tomasini, Mary spent her retirement fulfilling a lifelong passion for portrait painting.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (2)

George Tomasini (1947 - 22 November 1964) (his death)
Jon Whitcomb (4 May 1941 - 8 August 1941) (divorced)

Trivia (4)

Once engaged to Cary Grant and once to Dick Powell.
When she was cast as Wendy in 1924's Peter Pan (1924), Paramount cut two years off her age because 18 sounded too old for the part.
Painting portraits was a hobby she picked up later in life.
Was considered for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939).

Personal Quotes (3)

[on the marriage of Edmund Lowe and Lilyan Tashman] They played both sides of the tracks.
[on working with William Haines in Brown of Harvard] When his friend, Jimmy Shields, used to come on the quite often to see him, I think I just took it for granted.
[on homosexuality in Hollywood] I was around all that time, and it didn't seem that it was that big a deal. There were art directors, wonderful, integral part of the business, that were taken for granted. You admired them for their talent. It was no big deal. If there was a big set party, there was never any division there. Franklin Pangborn. He was accepted by everybody on set. They thought he was funny in the things he did. He didn't socialize a great deal. But that was not from any prejudice. I never thought that way.

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