Betty's early years


Betty Bronson was an actress whose career began in Hollywood's Silent Era and spanned several decades.  She is best known for her portrayal of Peter Pan in the 1924 Paramount production of that name, but she also played many other roles, in silents, talkies and on the stage.

I always knew I wanted to be a movie star.  I just wanted to be a good one.  If you know Merton of the Movies, you will remember how every night, he prayed "Dear God, make me a movie star."  Well I'm a Catholic, so I'm not permitted to be that familiar, but I did pray.  "Dear St Genesius, make me a good movie star."   [1]

Betty was born Elizabeth Ada Bronson in Trenton, New Jersey on 17th November 1906 to Frank and Nellie Smith Bronson.  She was the oldest of four children in a family that enjoyed the arts, and she fondly remembered being taken to plays, opera, concerts, dances, ball games and movies during her childhood.  The movies obviously made a great impression on little Betty; in her unpublished biographical notes, she says she decided to become a movie star at the age of six.  The Bronson family was somewhat nomadic, moving from New Jersey to Los Angeles, St Louis, and back to New Jersey.  Betty attended convent schools, the Kroeger School of Music in St Louis, grammar school in Hempstead, Long Island, the East Orange High School in New Jersey and the St Vincent Academy in Newark, New Jersey.

She was not particularly happy in school (she attributed that to the constant moving), and eventually persuaded her parents to let her quit to pursue her acting ambitions.  She then left home and moved to New York to train in dance under Michel Fokine, a Ballets Russes choreographer.  She was perhaps only with the Russian Ballet for a few weeks, but it helped give her the graceful movements which she imparted so unforgettably to the role of Peter Pan, both in the air and on the ground.

Betty was a blue eyed brunette (later becoming platinum grey), and was five feet tall--a fairly typical height for a star of the Silent Era.



With Adolph Menjou and Florence Vidor in `Are Parents
People?' Betty with Dan Crimmins, Ricardo Cortez and Sidney
Olcott on the set of `Not So Long Ago'



Introduction

Betty's early years

Betty as Peter Pan

Prelude to Peter Pan

Further silent film work and the advent of talkies

Life beyond the movies

Film and promotional shots

Betty's available films

Bibliography and credits


This site is copyright © 2001 Don Koks.