Edna Best

Edna Clara Best (3 March 1900 – 18 September 1974[1]) was a British stage and screen actress.

Edna Clara Best
Edna Best

(1900-03-03)3 March 1900
Died18 September 1974(1974-09-18) (aged 74)
Years active1917–1959
Spouse(s)Seymour Beard
(m. 192?; div. 1928)
Herbert Marshall
(m. 1928; div. 1940)

Nat Wolff
(m. 1940; died 1959)
Children3, including Sarah Marshall

Early life

Born in Hove, Sussex, England, she was educated in Brighton and later studied dramatic acting under Miss Kate Rorke who was the first Professor of Drama at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.


Edna Best was known on the London stage before she entered films in 1921, having made her debut at the Grand Theatre, Southampton, in Charley's Aunt in 1917. She also won a silver swimming cup as the lady swimming champion of Sussex.

She is best remembered for her role as the mother in the original 1934 film version of Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much. Among her other film credits are Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939), Swiss Family Robinson (1940), The Late George Apley and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (both 1947) and The Iron Curtain (1948).

Best received a nomination for an Emmy Award in 1957 for her role in This Happy Breed. She had appeared on television as early as 1938, in a live production of the play Love from a Stranger, adapted from the Agatha Christie short story "Philomel Cottage" by Frank Vosper.

Personal life

Best was married three times and divorced twice.

Her first marriage, to William Seymour Beard, ended in divorce in 1928. The London Divorce Court gave Beard custody of the couple's twins (James and John Beard[2]) in granting the divorce "owing to the misconduct of his wife, Miss Best, with Mr. Marshall."[3] The "Mr. Marshall" referred to was actor Herbert Marshall, whose divorce from Hilda Lloyd Marshall ("owing to the misconduct of her husband ... with ... Miss Edna Best") was granted in the same court session.[3] Best later was married to Marshall from 28 November 1928,[4] until 1940, and they had a daughter, actress Sarah Marshall. She married talent agent Nat Wolff on 7 February 1940, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The judge "who granted the divorce [from Marshall] after a five-minute closed hearing, performed the marriage a few minutes later."[2]

Best suffered a stroke in 1959.[5]


In 1960, Best was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a motion pictures star located at 6124 Hollywood Boulevard.[6]


She died in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1974, aged 74.


Radio appearances

1952Theatre Guild on the AirLove from a Stranger[7]
1953Theatre Guild on the AirJane[8]


  1. "Edna Best - Hollywood Star Walk - Los Angeles Times". projects.latimes.com. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  2. "Edna Best Divorces Herbert Marshall, Weds an Agent". Daytona Beach Morning Journal (8 February 1940). p. 3. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  3. "Miss Edna Best Divorced". The Advertiser. 28 June 1928. Retrieved 24 May 2015.
  4. "Actor Edna Best Divorces Marshall And Marries Wolff". Newspapers.com. The Lincoln Star. 7 February 1940. p. 7. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  5. "Actress Suffers Stroke". The Decatur Herald. Newspapers.com. 7 May 1959. p. 1. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  6. "Hollywood Walk of Fame - Edna Best". walkoffame.com. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 16 November 2017.
  7. Kirby, Walter (16 March 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". Newspapers.com. The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  8. Kirby, Walter (11 January 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". Newspapers.com. The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
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