Evelyn Brent

Evelyn Brent (born Mary Elizabeth Riggs,[1] October 20, 1895[2][3][4]– June 4, 1975[5]) was an American film and stage actress.

Evelyn Brent
Mary Elizabeth Riggs

(1895-10-20)October 20, 1895
DiedJune 4, 1975(1975-06-04) (aged 79)
Other namesBetty Riggs
Years active1915–1960
Spouse(s)B. P. Fineman
Harry D. Edwards (m.1928–div.1947)
Harry Fox
(m.?–1959; his death)

Early life

Born in Tampa and known as Betty, Brent was a child of 10 when her mother Eleanor died, leaving her father Arthur to raise her alone.

After moving to New York City as a teenager, her good looks brought modeling jobs that led to an opportunity to become involved in the still relatively new business of making motion pictures.

She originally studied to be a teacher. While attending a normal school in New York she visited the World Film Studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Two days later she was working there as an extra making $3 a day.


She began her film career working under her own name at a New Jersey film studio then made her major debut in the 1915 silent film production of the Robert W. Service poem, The Shooting of Dan McGrew.

As Evelyn Brent, she continued to work in film, developing into a young woman whose sultry looks were much sought after. After World War I, she went to London for a vacation.

She met American playwright Oliver Cromwell who urged her to accept an important role in The Ruined Lady. The production was presented on the London stage. The actress remained in England for four years, performing in films produced by British companies. She also worked on stage there before going to Hollywood in 1922.

There, her career received a major boost the following year when she was chosen as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Douglas Fairbanks Sr. signed her but failed to find a story for her; she left his company to join Associated Authors.

Evelyn went on to make more than two dozen silent films including three for the noted Austrian director Josef von Sternberg, including The Last Command (1928), an epic war drama for which Emil Jannings won the first Academy Award for Best Actor and featured a pivotal supporting performance for William Powell.

Later that same year, she starred opposite William Powell in Paramount Pictures' (and her own) first talkie. One film, Interference (1928), did not live up to expectations at the box office. Despite that, Brent played major roles in several more features, most notably The Silver Horde and the Paramount Pictures all-star revue Paramount on Parade (both 1930).

By the early part of the 1930s, she was busy working in secondary roles in a variety of films as well as touring with vaudeville shows.

By 1941 her screen career was at its least prestigious point. Now too mature for ingenue roles, and no longer in demand by major studios, she found plenty of work at the smaller, low-budget studios.

She photographed attractively opposite leading men who were also at advanced ages and later stages in their careers: Neil Hamilton in Producers Releasing Corporation's production Dangerous Lady, Lee Tracy in the same studio's The Payoff, and Jack Holt in the serial Holt of the Secret Service, produced by Larry Darmour for Columbia Pictures. Her performances were still persuasive, and her name was still recognizable to moviegoers: theater owners often put "Evelyn Brent" on their marquees. In the early 1940s she worked in the Pine-Thomas "B" action features for Paramount Pictures release. Veteran director William Beaudine cast her in many "B" productions, including Emergency Landing (1941), Bowery Champs (1944), The Golden Eye (1948), and Again Pioneers (1950). After performing in more than 120 films, she retired from acting in 1950 and worked for a number of years as an actor's agent.

Evelyn returned to acting in television's Wagon Train for one episode in 1960, The Lita Foladaire Story starring Ward Bond and Diane Brewster; Brent played a housekeeper.

Personal life and death

Evelyn Brent was married three times: to movie executive Bernard P. Fineman, to producer Harry D. Edwards, and finally to the vaudeville actor Harry Fox for whom the foxtrot dance was named. They were still married when he died in 1959.[6]

Brent died of a heart attack in 1975[7] at her Los Angeles home. She was cremated and interred in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.


In 1960, Brent was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a motion pictures star for her contributions to the film industry. Her star is located at 6548 Hollywood Boulevard.[8]


Silent Films

Year Title Role Notes
1914 A Gentleman from Mississippi Hope Langdon
1915 The Heart of a Painted Woman Lost film
1915 The Shooting of Dan McGrew Nell (adult) Lost film
1915 When Love Laughs Bessie Short film
Lost film
1916 The Lure of Heart's Desire Little Snowbird Lost film
1916 The Iron Will Uncredited
Short film
Lost film
1916 The Soul Market Vivian Austin Lost film
1916 Playing with Fire Lucille Vane Lost film
1916 The Spell of the Yukon Dorothy Temple Lost film
1916 The Weakness of Strength Bessie Alden Lost film
1916 The Iron Woman Nannie Maitland Lost film
1917 The Millionaire's Double Constance Brent Lost film
1917 To the Death Rosa Lost film
1917 Who's Your Neighbor? Betty Hamlin Lost film
1917 Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman Ethel - Lord Amersteth's Daughter
1918 Daybreak Det. Alma Peterson Lost film
1919 Border River Marie Dubuque Short film
1919 Help! Help! Police! Marian Trevor Lost film
1919 Fool's Gold Nancy Smith
1919 The Other Man's Wife Becky Simon Lost film
1919 The Glorious Lady Lady Eileen
1920 The Shuttle of Life Miriam Grey Lost film
1920 The Law Divine Daphne Grey Lost film
1921 Demos Emma Vine Lost film
1921 The Door That Has No Key Violet Melton Lost film
1921 Sybil Sybil Gerard Lost film
1921 Sonia Sonia Dainton Lost film
1921 Laughter and Tears Pierette
1922 Trapped by the Mormons Nora Prescott
1922 The Spanish Jade Mañuela Lost film
1922 Married to a Mormon Beryl Fane Lost film
1922 The Experiment Doris Fielding Lost film
1922 Pages of Life Mitzi / Dolores Lost film
1923 Held to Answer Bessie Burbeck Lost film
1924 Loving Lies Ellen Craig Lost film
1924 The Shadow of the Desert Lolaire Lost film
1924 Arizona Express Lola Nichols
1924 The Plunderer The Lily Lost film
1924 The Lone Chance Margaret West Lost film
1924 The Desert Outlaw May Halloway
1924 The Cyclone Rider Weeping Wanda
1924 The Dangerous Flirt Sheila Fairfax Lost film
1924 My Husband's Wives Marie Wynn Lost film
1924 Silk Stocking Sal 'Stormy' Martin Lost film
1925 Midnight Molly Margaret Warren / Midnight Molly
1925 Forbidden Cargo Polly O'Day Lost film
1925 Alias Mary Flynn Mary Flynn Lost film
1925 Smooth as Satin Gertie Jones Lost film
1925 Lady Robinhood Señorita Catalina / La Ortiga Lost film
1925 Three Wise Crooks Molly Lost film
1925 Broadway Lady Rosalie Ryan
1926 Queen o'Diamonds Jeanette Durant / Jerry Lyon Lost film
1926 Secret Orders Janet Graaham Lost film
1926 The Impostor Judith Gilbert Lost film
1926 The Jade Cup Peggy Allen Lost film
1926 Flame of the Argentine Inez Remírez Lost film
1926 Love 'Em and Leave 'Em Mame Walsh
1927 Love's Greatest Mistake Jane Lost film
1927 Blind Alleys Sally Ray Lost film
1927 Underworld 'Feathers' McCoy
1927 Women's Wares Dolly Morton
1928 Beau Sabreur Mary Vanbrugh Lost film
1928 The Last Command Natalie Dabrova
1928 The Showdown Sibyl Shelton
1928 A Night of Mystery Gilberte Boismartel
1928 His Tiger Lady Tiger Lady Lost film
1928 The Drag Net The Magpie Lost film
1928 The Mating Call Rose Henderson


  1. Room, Adrian (2010). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins, 5th ed. McFarland. p. 75. ISBN 9780786457632. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  2. Passport application. "Ancestry.com".
  3. 1929 passenger list for Evelyn edwards. "Ancestry.com".
  4. "Books.Google.gr".
  5. Kear, Lynn (2009). Evelyn Brent: The Life and Films of Hollywood's Lady Crook. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-7864-4363-5.
  6. Evelyn Brent: the life and films of Hollywood's Lady Crook. Retrieved September 1, 2011.
  7. Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 195. ISBN 9780786450190. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  8. "Hollywood Walk of Fame - Evelyn Brent". walkoffame.com/. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved November 30, 2017.


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