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Betty Bronson (November 17, 1906 – October 19, 1971) was an American television and film actress who began her career during the silent film era. She was a famous actress in silent and sound films.

Film career

She was born Elizabeth Ada Bronson in Trenton, New Jerseymarker to Frank and Nellie Smith Bronson. She began her film career began at age of sixteen with a bit part in the film Anna Ascends. At seventeen, after she had pleaded with every friend she had at Paramount studios, she finally got an interview with J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan.J. M. Barrie personally chose her to play the lead in a film of his work Peter Pan which would be released in 1924. This film role had been sought by both Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford, but Bronson won the role through her natural lightness and grace, probably refined through training with the Ballet Russes Company. Though she was with them for only a short time, perhaps a couple of weeks, it proved helpful in enhancing her portrayal of Peter Pan, especially in the flight sequences.

She starred with Mary Brian (Wendy Darling) and Esther Ralston (Mrs Darling), and the three of them became very close friends for the rest of their lives.

Bronson became an instant success in the year following the release of Peter Pan. She had a major role in the 1925 silent film adaptation of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. he had moderate success for the rest of her career. She made a very successful transition into sound films. Her first sound film was in The Singing Fool (1928) with Al Jolson. She also starred in the follow up film called Sonny Boy in 1929. She was the leading lady opposite Jack Benny in the 1930 romantic drama The Medicine Man.

Bronson continued film roles until 1933 when she married Ludwig Lauerhass, with whom she had one child, Ludwig Lauerhass, Jr. She did not appear in films again until 1937 in Yodelin' Kid from Pine Ridge, starring Gene Autry. She resumed acting in the 1960s appearing in episode television roles and feature films. Her last film role was uncredited part in the 1971 television biopic Evel Knievel.

Bronson, the Media and Doug Fairbanks, Jr

Bronson was always rather recluse with the press, but she did get some attention after being seen with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.. He had his first childish crush on her, and as he fondly remembered her in his autobiography, 'The Salad Days' he stated that 'Another important picture had just started. It was Peter Pan directed by a clever caricature of a wildly temperamental movie director, Herbert Brenon. After exhaustive tests, Betty Bronson, a pretty and gifted girl in her middle teens, was given this famous role... I fell for Betty! It was my first intensely juvenile, deep-sighs-and-bad-sonnets love. It was not fully requited. She only flirted with me. My rival was a fellow in his twenties, a newspaperman who was to become one of New York's most respected theater critics, Richard Watts, Jr. ...In any event, I was so smitten with Betty, I could think of little else, except when I could call on her, even though her overprotective mother was always just in the next room.'

In any case, it is known that Bronson kept all of his letters, bad sonnets and all, and she spoke of him fondly until her dying day.


On October 19, 1971, Bronson died after a protracted illness in Pasadena, Californiamarker and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendalemarker.


Year Film Role Notes
1922 Anna Ascends Bit part Uncredited
1923 Java Head Janet Ammidon
The Go-Getter Bit part Uncredited
His Children's Children Uncredited
The Eternal City Page Uncredited
Twenty-One Uncredited
1924 Peter Pan Peter Pan
1925 Are Parents People? Lita Hazlitt
Not So Long Ago Betty Dover
The Golden Princess Betty Kent
A Kiss for Cinderella Cinderella (Jane)
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ Mary Alternative title: Ben-Hur
1926 The Cat's Pajamas Sally Winton
Paradise Chrissie
Everybody's Acting Doris Poole
1927 Paradise for Two Sally Lane
Ritzy Ritzy Brown
Open Range Lucy Blake
Brass Knuckles June Curry
1928 Companionate Marriage Sally Williams Alternative title: The Jazz Bride
The Singing Fool Grace
1929 A Modern Sappho
Bellamy Trial Reporter
Sonny Boy Aunt Winigred Canfield
One Stolen Night Jeanne
The Locked Door Helen Reagan
1930 The Medicine Man Mamie Goltz
1931 Lover Come Back Vivian March
1932 The Midnight Patrol Ellen Gray
1937 Yodelin' Kid from Pine Ridge Milly Baynum Alternative title: The Hero from Pine Ridge
1961 Pocketful of Miracles Mayor's wife Uncredited
1962 Who's Got the Action? Mrs. Boatwright Uncredited
1964 The Naked Kiss Miss Josephine Alternative title: The Iron Kiss
1968 Blackbeard's Ghost Old Lady
Year Title Role Notes
1960 My Three Sons Mrs. Butler 1 episode
1964 Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre 1 episode
Grindl Mrs. Cooper 1 episode
1965 Run for Your Life Alma Sloan 1 episode
1971 Evel Knievel Sorority House Mother Television movie

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