Herbert Brenon

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Herbert Brenon
Herbert Brenon, 1916
Alexander Herbert Reginald St. John Brenon

(1880-01-13)13 January 1880
Kingstown, Ireland
Died21 June 1958(1958-06-21) (aged 78)
Los Angeles, California
Alma mater King's College London
OccupationFilm director
Years active1911–1940
RelativesAileen Brenon (niece)
Juliet Brenon (niece)
Herbert Brenon and Alla Nazimova with a camera in his studio, 9 August 1916. Aug 9, 1916 Herbert Brenon Alla Nazimova.jpg
Herbert Brenon and Alla Nazimova with a camera in his studio, 9 August 1916.
Herbert Brenon reading Rupert Hughes' Empty Pockets Brenon reading Hughes.jpg
Herbert Brenon reading Rupert Hughes' Empty Pockets
The mausoleum of Herbert Brenon in Woodlawn Cemetery Herbert Brenon Mausoleum 12-2-2008.jpg
The mausoleum of Herbert Brenon in Woodlawn Cemetery

Herbert Brenon (born Alexander Herbert Reginald St. John Brenon; 13 January 1880 – 21 June 1958) was an Irish film director, actor and screenwriter during the era of silent movies through the 1930s.



Brenon was born at 25 Crosthwaite Park, in Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire, Dublin to journalist, poet, and politician Edward St. John Brenon and Francis Harries. [1]

In 1882, the family moved to London, where Herbert was educated at St Paul's School and at King's College London. Before becoming a director, he performed in vaudeville acts with his wife Helen Oberg.

Some of his more noteworthy films were the first movie adaptations of Peter Pan (1924) and Beau Geste (1926); Sorrell and Son (1927), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director at the 1st Academy Awards [2] (Sorrell and Son was thought lost for many years, but was found and restored by the Academy Film Archive in 2004 [3] ); Laugh, Clown, Laugh (1928), with Lon Chaney; and The Flying Squad (1940), his final film.

Screenwriter/director Ed Bernds did not have fond memories of Brenon. "So many of the silent film directors were phonies. I didn't think highly of Herbert Brenon, for instance. He was the old, imperious type of director. Lordly, demanding. There was a scene in Lummox, where Winifred Westover was supposed to be betrayed by Ben Lyon, who has gotten her pregnant. He throws some money down and she takes the money and tears it up with her teeth. Well, Brenon demanded real money! And several takes. The poor propman was going around borrowing money from the crew. It was the Imperial syndrome of silent film directors." [4]

Before his death, Brenon was working on his autobiography. When he worked with Mary Brian in Peter Pan, he asked her to paint her idea of what Never-Neverland looked like and the painting was to be included in the photos of the book. He died before it was completed. [5] He died in Los Angeles and was interred in a private mausoleum at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York. [6]

Partial filmography

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  1. "General Registrar's Office". IrishGenealogy.ie. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  2. "The 1st Academy Awards (1929) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences . Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  3. "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
  4. Eyman, Scott. The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution 1926–1930. Simon and Schuster, New York: 1997.
  5. Ankerich, Michael G. The Sound of Silence: Conversations with 16 Film and Stage Personalities. McFarland and Company Inc., Publishers: Jefferson, NC, 1998. p. 45.
  6. Forgotten New York