Enid Bennett

Enid Eulalie Bennett (15 July 1893 – 14 May 1969) was an Australian silent film actress, mostly active in American film.[1]

Enid Bennett
Bennett in 1917
Born(1893-07-15)15 July 1893
Died14 May 1969(1969-05-14) (aged 75)
Years active19161941
Fred Niblo
(m. 1918; died 1948)

Sidney Franklin (m. 1963)
RelativesMarjorie Bennett (sister)

Early life

Enid Eulalie Bennett was born on 15 July 1893 in York, the daughter of Nellie Mary Louise (née Walker) and Frank Bennett. She had an older brother, Francis Reginald "Reg" Bennett (born 1891), and a younger sister, actress Marjorie Bennett (born 1896).[2] After an unsuccessful attempt to start his own school, Frank took up the role of headmaster at the newly established Guildford Grammar School in 1896. He died in 1898, when he drowned in a river while suffering from depression.[3] Nellie later married the new headmaster, Alexander Gillespie, in 1899. With him, she had a daughter named Catherine (born 1901) and a son named Alexander (born 1903).[4] Following Gillespie's death in 1903, Nellie supported her five children by working as a school matron.

Bennett attended Lionel Logue's acting and elocution classes in Perth, and after receiving encouragement from a visiting actress in 1910, she joined a touring company.[5][6] By 1912, Bennett had joined the Fred Niblo-Josephine Cohan touring company, performing comedies around Australia and understudying for Cohan herself, for which she received consistently positive reviews. Her family had moved to Sydney by this time. In 1917, Reg was killed during the Battle of Passchendaele while serving with the First Australian Imperial Force.[7]


In the early part of 1915, theatre agents J. C. Williamson's decided to make short films of some of their popular plays, to forestall the release of imported American filmed versions. They used Niblo as director, and members of his troupe appeared in Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford and Officer 666. Enid Bennett appeared in both. Three reels of Officer 666 survive today in the National Film and Sound Archive. Film historians Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper describe it as "a crude production doggedly faithful to the stage."[8] Both films were released in Australia after Bennett left for the United States in June 1915, travelling with Niblo and Cohan.

Her first appearance in the U.S. was in Henry Arthur Jones' play Cock o' the Walk at George M. Cohan's Theatre on Broadway in late 1915.[9] Roles of increasing importance in films followed soon after. One of her most important early films was The Little Brother in 1917, where she appeared opposite William Garwood. This brought her to the attention of studios, in particular Thomas H. Ince, who signed her up with the Triangle Film Corporation. From 1918 to 1921, she starred in 23 films, becoming well established as an actress and attracting great publicity and consistently positive reviews. In 1922, she starred in three films, one of which became her most famous role, the female lead of Maid Marian in Robin Hood with Douglas Fairbanks. Interviewed in the 1960s by Kevin Brownlow, Bennett said, "I had a wonderful time playing Maid Marian. Of course, the part was not too demanding, I just walked through it in a queenly manner. [Fairbanks] was wonderful, inspiring."[10]

Following Josephine Cohan's death, Bennett married Fred Niblo in 1918. In 1924, she appeared opposite Ramon Novarro in Niblo's film Red Lily. Between 1923 and 1928 her career had slowed and she appeared in leading roles in fewer films. She made a transition to sound, appearing in two 1931 Jackie Cooper-Robert Coogan films: Skippy (which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture) and its sequel Sooky. Later at the end of the decade she appeared in a few minor roles, the last being the Marx Brothers 1941 film The Big Store. Niblo had retired in 1933, and it appears Bennett did also.

In later life, sister Marjorie Bennett explained that, somewhat against her will, she had been encouraged by the family to join Bennett to keep her company in the U.S.[11] By the mid-1920s, her mother Nellie, both her sisters, and her surviving brother were living in the U.S.[12] In 1934, her brother Alexander married actress Frances Lee. The wedding was attended by some of Hollywood's biggest names, including Gloria Swanson and Greta Garbo.

Personal life

In 1918, Bennett married Fred Niblo. In 1922, she and Niblo had their first child, a daughter named Loris. A son, Peter, was born later that year, and another daughter, Judith, was born in 1928.[13] Niblo died in 1948.[14] In 1963, she married American film director Sidney Franklin. In later life, she resided in Malibu, California.

Niblo and Bennett commissioned architect Wallace Neff to design their house on Angelo Drive, which they named Misty Mountain. It was completed in 1926 and sold by the couple to Jule C. Stein in 1940 after a decline in their fortunes.[15]


On 14 May 1969, Bennett died at her home in Malibu, California, aged 75.

Partial filmography


  1. Enid Bennett, allmovie- summary biography article
  2. Western Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages records. See
  3. Eastern Districts Chronicle (York, WA : 1877 - 1927), "The Late Mr. F. Bennett," Saturday 15 October 1898 Accessed 29/12/15
  4. Guildford Grammar Archives, "NELLIE MARY LOUISE WALKER," By Rosemary Waller, 11 September, 2013 Archived 19 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 28/12/2015
  5. The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 - 1950) "Mainly About People," 10 August, 1910, P.3 Accessed 28/12/2015
  6. Desley Deacon, 2013. Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies."From Victorian Accomplishment to Modern Profession: Elocution Takes Judith Anderson, Sylvia Bremer and Dorothy Cumming to Hollywood, 1912-1918." National Library of Australia. Vol 18, No.1 Accessed 13/12/2015
  7. Roll of Honour - Francis Reginald Bennett, Australian War Memorial.
  8. Andrew Pike and Ross Cooper(1980) Australian Film 1900-1977, Oxford University Press, P.80 ISBN 0 19 554213 4
  9. Internet Broadway Database Accessed 30/12/15
  10. Kevin Brownlow (1968) The Parade's Gone By. P.254, University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03068-0
  11. The Tuscaloosa News, "Cheerful little old lady long active as an actress." Aug 24, 1977 Accessed 28/12/2015.
  12. Lieut Francis Reginald Bennett was killed in action at Ypres in 1917. Nellie Gillespie's correspondence with the Australian Army shows she resided at 805 Crescent Drive Beverly Hills in early 1923. See his service record online at National Archives of Australia Accessed 28/12/2015
  13. Remembering My Father, Fred Niblo. Peter Niblo, 2006 Accessed 28/12/2015
  14. The Pittsburg Press November 1948 "Fred Niblo Dies" 12 November 1948 Accessed 28/12/2015
  15. Mark David (20 March 2015). "Rupert Murdoch Sells BevHills Estate to Son James". Variety. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.