Betty Bronson

She was born Elizabeth Ada Bronson in Trenton, NJ., Nov. 17, 1906. She was the oldest of four children, and, because her family moved around quite a bit, she attended schools in several cities including St. Louis, New York and Newark. To pursue her dream of becoming an actress, she moved to New York for dance instruction under Michel Fokine, a Ballets Russes choreographer, which only lasted for a short time. She went to Paramount Studios on Long Island seeking work and was given a small role in Leatrice Joy's "Java Head" (1923) playing a young girl of ten (she was 17 at the time.) Small roles continued to follow in such films as "Anna Ascends" (1922) with Alice Brady, "The Go Getter" (1923) with T. Roy Barnes and Seena Owen, "His Children's Children" (1923) with Bebe Daniels, and "Twenty-One" (1923) with Richard Barthelmess. Her first credited role was in "Eternal City" (1923) with Barbara LaMarr and Bert Lytell. When Betty learned that a search was on for the lead in "Peter Pan" (1924), she began working toward getting the part and finally gained an introduction to the studio manager. Through the help of director Victor Fleming (for whom she worked in "Anna Ascends"), she made a screen test for "Peter Pan" director Herbert Brenon. Author J.M. Barrie, who was in England, had the final word on who would play the coveted role. Brenon took the test to Barrie who immediately approved of Bronson for the title character. When the movie was released, it and Betty were an immediate hit. She received praise from every quarter for her performance. "Peter Pan" was followed by "Are Parents People?" (1925) a delightful comedy with Adolphe Menjou, Florence Vidor and Lawrence Gray as the love interest. "A Kiss For Cinderella" (1925) was another J.M. Barrie story and an attempt to repeat the success of "Peter Pan." Although it was a good film and well received, it did not measure up to her first success. Betty was next given the role of Mary in MGM's "Ben Hur" (1925) and handled the role with dignity and grace. Betty made 14 more films in the next four years, including "The Singing Fool" (1928) with Al Jolson. She only made six undistinguished films in the 1930's. All of this time, she also worked on the stage. In 1932, she married Ludwig Lauerhass a successful businessman in the pharmaceutical industry. After making her final movie in 1937, she settled into home life raising children and working in a variety of civic and charitable endeavors. She also did support work during World War II including entertaining soldiers at Pasadena's Hospitality House. She made a return to the screen in 1961's "Pocketful of Miracles" in a character role and made four more screen appearances with a final role in "Evel Knieval" (1971). She received particular praise for her role in "The Naked Kiss" (1964). She was also active on stage and TV during this time. She died Oct. 19, 1971, after a long illness.

Selected films of this star available for viewing:

Peter Pan (1924)

Are Parents People? (1925)

A Kiss for Cinderella (1925)

Ben Hur (1925)

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