Filled Under: George Brent
George Brent was a Irish born film actor in American cinema who became a popular leading man in Hollywood during the late 1930s and 1940s.
George Brent was born George Brendan Nolan on March 15, 1899 in Raharabeg, County Roscommon, Ireland. The son of a British Army officer, Brent was part of an IRA Active Service Unit during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1922). He became a courier for Sinn Fein leader Michael Collins. With a price on his head and being hunted by the Black and Tan, Brent fled. Having an interest in acting, Brent joined a touring production of “Abie’s Irish Rose” and came to the United States in 1925 with the company to tour with the show. During the next five years, Brent acted in stock companies in Colorado, Rhode Island, Florida, and Massachusetts. In 1927, he appeared on “Broadway in Love, Honor, and Betray” alongside Clark Gable. Brent eventually made his way to Hollywood and made his first film, “Under Suspicion” in 1930. Over the next two years he appeared in a number of minor films produced by Universal Studios and Fox, before being signed to contract by Warner Brothers in 1932. He would remain at Warner Brothers for the next twenty years, carving out a successful career as a top-flight leading man during the late 1930s and 1940s starring opposite many of the most famous and popular leading ladies of that era.
Highly regarded by Bette Davis, George Brent became her most frequent male co-star, appearing with her in eleven films, including “Front Page Woman” (1935), “Special Agent” (1935), “The Golden Arrow” (1936), “Jezebel” (1938), “The Old Maid” (1939), “Dark Victory” (1939) and “The Great Lie” (1941). Brent also played opposite Ruby Keeler in “42nd Street” (1933), Kay Francis in “The Keyhole” (1933), Greta Garbo in “The Painted Veil” (1934), Ginger Rogers in “In Person” (1935), Madeleine Carroll in “The Case Against Mrs. Ames” (1936), Jean Arthur in “More Than a Secretary” (1936), Myrna Loy in “Stamboul Quest” (1934) and “The Rains Came” (1939), Merle Oberon in “‘Til We Meet Again” (1940), Ann Sheridan in “Honeymoon for Three” (1941), Joan Fontaine in “The Affairs of Susan” (1945), Barbara Stanwyck in “So Big!” (1932), “The Purchase Price” (1932), “Baby Face” (1933), “The Gay Sisters” (1942) and “My Reputation” (1946), Claudette Colbert in “Tomorrow Is Forever” (1946), Dorothy McGuire in “The Spiral Staircase” (1946), Lucille Ball in “Lover Come Back” (1946) and Yvonne De Carlo in “Slave Girl” (1947).
Brent’s popularity began to wane in the late 1940s and after making several “B” pictures over the next few years he retired from film in 1953. Brent was cast in the lead in the 1956 television series, “Wire Service” which ran for thirteen episodes in 1957. Through 1960, he also appeared on other television shows such as “Crown Theatre with Gloria Swanson” (1954), “The Ford Television Theatre” (1953 and 1954), “Climax!” (1955), “Fireside Theatre” (1955), “Crossroads” (1956), and “Rawhide” (1960) to name a few. After appearing in “The Chevy Mystery Show” in 1960, Brent retired until making one last appearance in 1978 in the made-for-television production “Born Again”.
George Brent was known as a womanizer in Hollywood, reputedly carrying on a lengthy relationship with his frequent co-star Bette Davis. He was married five times: to Helen Louise Campbell (1925–1927), to actress Ruth Chatterton (1932–1934), actress Constance Worth (1937) and actress Ann Sheridan (1942–1943). Brent’s final marriage was in 1947 to Janet Michaels, a former model and dress designer. That union lasted 27 years until her death in 1974. They had two children together, a son and a daughter.
George Brent died from emphysema on May 26, 1979 in Solana Beach, San Diego County, California. He was eighty years old.
Brent earned two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The first at 1709 Vine St. for his film contributions. The second star is at 1614 Vine St. for his work in television.