Enid Bennett

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Enid Bennett
Enid Bennett Trading Card.jpg
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)
Relatives Marjorie Bennett (sister)

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

Silent film Film with no synchronized recorded dialogue

A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound. In silent films for entertainment, the plot may be conveyed by the use of title cards, written indications of the plot and key dialogue lines. The idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as film itself, but because of the technical challenges involved, the introduction of synchronized dialogue became practical only in the late 1920s with the perfection of the Audion amplifier tube and the advent of the Vitaphone system. The term "silent film" is a misnomer, as these films were almost always accompanied by live sounds During the silent-film era that existed from the mid-1890s to the late 1920s, a pianist, theater organist—or even, in large cities, a small orchestra—would often play music to accompany the films. Pianists and organists would play either from sheet music, or improvisation. Sometimes a person would even narrate the intertitle cards for the audience. Though at the time the technology to synchronize sound with the video did not exist, music was seen as an essential part of the viewing experience.


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.

York, Western Australia Town in Western Australia

York is the oldest inland town in Western Australia, situated on the Avon River, 97 kilometres (60 mi) east of Perth in the Wheatbelt, on Ballardong Nyoongar land, and is the seat of the Shire of York.

Marjorie Bennett was an Australian-born television and film actress, who worked mainly in Great Britain and the United States. She began her acting career during the silent film era.

Guildford Grammar School Anglican boys school in Western Australia

Guildford Grammar School, informally known as Guildford Grammar, Guildford or GGS, is a co-educational independent, day and boarding school situated in Guildford, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia.

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] .

Lionel Logue Australian speech and language pathologist; speech therapist

Lionel George Logue, CVO was an Australian speech and language therapist and amateur stage actor who successfully treated King George VI, who had a pronounced stammer.

Perth City in Western Australia

Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia (WA). It is named after the city of Perth, Scotland and is the fourth-most populous city in Australia, with a population of 2.06 million living in Greater Perth. Perth is part of the South West Land Division of Western Australia, with the majority of the metropolitan area located on the Swan Coastal Plain, a narrow strip between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Scarp. The first areas settled were on the Swan River at Guildford, with the city's central business district and port (Fremantle) both later founded downriver.

Fred Niblo film director

Fred Niblo was an American pioneer film actor, director and producer.


Bennett in 1920 Enid Bennett 2.jpg
Bennett in 1920
Bennett with husband Fred Niblo in 1926 Fredniblo.jpg
Bennett with husband Fred Niblo in 1926

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.

J. C. Williamson actor and theatre manager

James Cassius Williamson was an American actor and later Australia's foremost theatrical manager, founding J. C. Williamson Ltd.

Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford is a fictional con artist created by writer George Randolph Chester for a series of stories that first appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine. A book titled Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford: A Cheerful Account of the Rise and Fall of an American Business Buccaneer was published in 1907. J. Rufus Wallingford was also the hero of the following productions:

<i>Officer 666</i> 1916 film by Fred Niblo

Officer 666 is a 1916 silent film made in Australia, based on a successful Broadway comedy of 1912. The film was directed by Fred Niblo who would go on to direct The Mark of Zorro, The Three Musketeers, Blood and Sand and over forty more films.

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]

George M. Cohan American composer and playwright

George Michael Cohan, known professionally as George M. Cohan, was an American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer and theatrical producer.

The Little Brother is a 1917 American silent drama directed by Charles Miller and starring William Garwood and Australian actress Enid Bennett. The scenario was written by Lambert Hillyer based on a story by Lois Zellner.

William Garwood actor, director

William Davis Garwood, Jr. was an American stage and film actor and director of the early silent film era in the 1910s.

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.

Ramon Novarro Mexican-American film, stage and television actor

Jose Ramón Gil Samaniego, known professionally as Ramón Novarro, was a Mexican-born United States film, stage and television actor who began his career in silent films in 1917 and eventually became a leading man and one of the top box office attractions of the 1920s and early 1930s. Novarro was promoted by MGM as a "Latin lover" and became known as a sex symbol after the death of Rudolph Valentino.

Jackie Cooper American actor, director

John Cooper Jr. was an American actor, television director, producer and executive. He was a child actor who made the transition to an adult career. Cooper was the first child actor to receive an Oscar nomination. At age nine, he was also the youngest performer to have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, an honor that he received for the film Skippy (1931). For nearly 50 years, Cooper remained the youngest Oscar nominee in any category, until he was surpassed by Justin Henry, who was nominated at age eight for Best Supporting Actor for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979).

Robert Coogan American actor

Robert Coogan was an American film and television actor.

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.


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

Partial filmography

Fuss and Feathers (1918) Fuss and Feathers.jpg
Fuss and Feathers (1918)

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  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 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