George Brent

Last updated
George Brent
George Brent 1-M-2004.jpg
George Brendan Nolan

(1904-03-15)15 March 1904
DiedMay 26, 1979(1979-05-26) (aged 75)
Years active1924–1960, 1978
Helen Louise Campbell
(m. 1925;div. 1927)

Ruth Chatterton
(m. 1932;div. 1934)

Constance Worth
(m. 1937;div. 1937)

Ann Sheridan
(m. 1942;div. 1943)

Janet Michaels
(m. 1947;died 1974)

George Brent (born George Patrick Nolan, 15 March 1904 – 26 May 1979) was an Irish-American stage, film, and television actor.


Early life

Brent was born in Ballinasloe, County Galway, on March 15, 1904 [1] [2] to John J. and Mary (née McGuinness) Nolan. His mother was a native of Clonfad, Moore, County Roscommon. [3] In September 1915, [3] he moved with his younger sister Kathleen to New York City. There, they joined their mother, who was living in the USA after her separation from her husband. Brent returned to Ireland in February 1921, [3] during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1922), and was involved in the Irish Republican Army. [4] [5] He fled Ireland with a bounty set on his head by the British government, although he later claimed only to have been a courier for guerrilla leader and tactician Michael Collins. According to Ballinasloe Life (volume 2, issue 4, Oct/Nov 2012), [1] the Irish War of Independence careers of three different men named George Nolan (Brent and two others; one from County Dublin and the other from County Offaly) were apparently conflated, which may explain some of the discrepancies regarding Brent's year of birth, life, and activities during the 1919 to 1922 period. [4] [6]


Brent returned to the United States in August 1921. [7] Some time later, he toured with a production of Abie's Irish Rose . During the next five years, he acted in stock companies in Colorado, Rhode Island, Florida, and Massachusetts. In 1930, he appeared on Broadway in Love, Honor, and Betray, alongside Clark Gable. [4]

He eventually moved to Hollywood, and made his first film, Under Suspicion, in 1930. [4] [5] 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 Bros. in 1932. [4] He remained at Warner Bros. for the next 20 years, carving out a successful career as a top-flight leading man during the late 1930s and 1940s. [4] [5]

Highly regarded by Bette Davis, he became her most frequent male co-star, appearing with her in 13 films, including Front Page Woman (1935), Special Agent (1935), The Golden Arrow (1936), Jezebel (1938), The Old Maid (1939), Dark Victory (1939), The Great Lie (1941), and In This Our Life (1942). Brent also played opposite Ruby Keeler in 42nd Street (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). [8]

Brent drifted into "B" pictures from the late 1940s and retired from film in 1953. [4] He continued to appear on television until 1960, having appeared on the religion anthology series, Crossroads . He was cast in the lead in the 1956 television series, Wire Service . In 1978, he made one last film, the made-for-television production Born Again . [4] [5]

In 1960, Brent was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame with two stars. He received a motion-pictures star located at 1709 Vine Street, and a second star located at 1612 Vine Street for his work in television. [9]

Personal life

Brent was married five times: to Helen Louise Campbell (1925–1927), Ruth Chatterton (1932–1934), Constance Worth (1937), Ann Sheridan (1942–1943), and Janet Michaels (1947–1974). Chatterton, Worth, and Sheridan were also actresses. [4] [5] Chatterton and Sheridan were both Warner Bros. players. [4] His final marriage to Janet Michaels, a former model and dress designer, lasted 27 years until her death in 1974. They had a son and a daughter.

Brent also carried on a lengthy relationship with actress Bette Davis, his frequent Warner Bros. co-star, who described her last meeting with Brent after many years of estrangement. He was suffering from advanced emphysema, and she expressed great sadness at his ill health and deterioration. George Brent died in 1979 in Solana Beach, California. [10] [11]


Feature films

Short subjects

Radio appearances

1940 Lux Radio Theatre Wings of the Navy [12]
1946 Screen Guild Players Experiment Perilous [13]
1953 Stars over Hollywood Meet the Hero [14]


  1. 1 2 Ballinasloe Life (Volume 2, Issue 4, Oct/Nov 2012 cache) Archived March 26, 2016, at the Wayback Machine ; accessed 22 September 2015.
  2. Some sources have cited 1899, but most cite 1904.
  3. 1 2 3 Scott O'Brien, George Brent - Ireland's Gift to Hollywood and its Leading Ladies (2014) BearManor; ISBN   978-1-59393-599-3 (paper back)/978-1-59393-764-5 (hard copy).
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Byrne, James Patrick; Coleman, Philip and King, Jason Francis. (2008). Ireland and the Americas, Vol 2., New York: ABC-CLIO. pp. 119-120.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Cozad, W. Lee. (2002). Those magnificent mountain movies: (The Golden Years) 1911-1939, p. 160. Lake Arrowhead, CA: Rim of the World Historic Society.
  6. Karney, Robyn. (1986). The Movie Stars Story, p. 48. New York: Crescent Books.
  7. George Brent - Ireland's Gift to Hollywood and its Leading Ladies (2014) by Scott O'Brien
  8. George Brent profile,; accessed
  9. "Hollywood Walk of Fame - George Brent". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  10. Obituary,; accessed 22 September 2015.
  11. George Brent dies in Hollywood,; accessed 22 September 2015.
  12. "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 42 (2): 38. Spring 2016.
  13. "Bennett, Brent, Menjou Star on "Screen Guild"". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 12, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved October 1, 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  14. Kirby, Walter (February 22, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved June 23, 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg