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Bessie Love


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Bessie Love (September 10, 1898 – April 26, 1986) was an American motion picture actress who achieved prominence mainly in the silent films and early talkie eras. Petite and very pretty, she played innocent young girls, flappers, and wholesome leading ladies. Besides being an actress, she wrote the 1919 movie A Yankee Princess.

Early life

Love was born Juanita Horton in Midland, Texas. She attended school in Midland until she was in the eighth grade, when her chiropractor father moved his family to Hollywood. Bessie graduated from Los Angeles High School and then received from her parents (as a graduation present) of a trip around the United States. After six months of traveling, she finally returned home to Los Angeles.


The Silent Era

To help with the family's financial situation, Love's mother sent her to Biograph Studios, where she met pioneering film director D.W. Griffith. Griffith, who introduced Bessie Love to films, also gave the actress her screen moniker. He gave her small roles in his films The Birth of a Nation (1915) and in Intolerance (1916). She also appeared opposite William S. Hart in The Aryan and with Douglas Fairbanks in The Good Bad Man, Reggie Mixes In, and The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (all 1916).

In 1922 Love was selected one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. In 1923, she starred in Human Wreckage with Dorothy Davenport and produced by Thomas Ince.

As her roles got larger, so did her popularity. She performed the Charleston in the movie The King on Main Street in 1925. Also that same year she starred in The Lost World, a science fiction adventure based on the novel of the same name by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Three years later she starred in The Matinee Idol, a romantic comedy directed by a young Frank Capra.

The Sound Era

Love was able to successfully transition to talkies, and in 1929 she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Broadway Melody. She also appeared in several other early musicals including The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929), Chasing Rainbows (1930), Good News (1930), and They Learned About Women (1930).

However, by 1932 her American film career was in decline. She moved to England in 1935 and did stage work and occasional films there. As war came in Europe she returned to the US for a while, worked for the Red Cross, and entertained the troops. After the war she moved back to Britain where she kept her main residence, and continued to play small film roles for film companies in both the US and Britain. She appeared in films like The Barefoot Contessa (1954) with Humphrey Bogart, and as an American tourist in The Greengage Summer (1961) starring Kenneth More. She also played a small role as an American tourist in the James Bond thriller On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).

Her career came to a quick halt soon after that however, and she moved permanently to the United Kingdom, becoming a British citizen. She made a comeback in the 1980s with roles in Ragtime (1981), Warren Beatty's Reds (1981), Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981) and (her final film) The Hunger (1983) starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon. During her lifetime, Love featured in 131 films and TV episodes.

Personal life

In 1977 she published an autobiography, From Hollywood with Love. She was at this time living comfortably in a flat overlooking London’s Clapham Common and had recently appeared in a television account of the abdication of King Edward VIII.

She recorded that during World War II in Britain when she found acting work hard to come by she had been the ‘continuity girl’ on the film drama San Demetrio – London, an account of a ship badly damaged in the Atlantic but whose crew managed to bring her to port. She also says she had regular diet in the post-war era of stage roles as an American Tourist and similar roles, and was "Aunt Pittypat" in a large-scale musical version of Gone With the Wind.

Love was married once, from 1929 to 1935, to film producer William Hawks (the brother of film director Howard Hawks), and she had a daughter from that marriage. Love died in London, England from natural causes on April 26, 1986.

She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6777 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, California.









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