Brian, Mary (1908—)

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Brian, Mary (1908—)

American film actress. Born Louise Dantzler on February 17, 1908, in Corsicana, Texas; married briefly to artist Jon Whitcomb (marriage dissolved within three months); married film editor George Tomasini, 1937 or 1947 (died, 1967).

Selected films:

Peter Pan (1924); The Little French Girl (1925); Brown of Harvard (1926); Beau Geste (1926); Running Wild (1927); Shanghai Bound (1927); Harold Teen (1928); Varsity (1928); The Man I Love (1929); The Virginian (1929); The Light of Western Stars (1930); The Royal Family of Broadway (1930); The Front Page (1931); Blessed Event (1932); Hard to Handle (1933); Girl Missing (1933); College Rhythm (1934); The Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935); Charlie Chan in Paris (1935); Killer at Large (1936); The Amazing Quest of Ernest Bliss (UK, 1936); Navy Bound (1937); Calaboose (1943); The Dragnet (1948).

Remembered as one of the most amiable actresses in pictures, Mary Brian was an unfamiliar face when she was chosen to play Wendy in Paramount's Peter Pan (1924) and signed to a seven-year contract. Still a teenager, she attended high school on the studio lot while making as many as seven feature films a year, including the silents Beau Geste (1926), Harold Teen (1928), and The Virginian (1929). The advent of talkies brought roles in such notable films as Royal Family of Broadway (1930) and The Front Page (1931). She also co-starred with James Cagney in Hard to Handle (1933) and W.C. Fields in The Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935). In 1936, with her career in decline, Brian accepted

a film offer in England. Returning to America in the late 1930s, she joined a dance act and entertained GIs in Europe and North Africa during World War II. Early in the 1940s, she made a couple of low-budget films that signaled the end of her career. She returned for a brief stint on television in 1955, as the mother of Janet Waldo in the "Meet Corliss Archer" series.

During the 1930s, Brian's name was linked with Dick Powell, and she was reportedly married briefly to artist Jon Whitcomb. A later marriage to film editor George Tomasini endured until his death in 1967. In later years, she turned her hobby of painting celebrities into a profitable sideline.


Lamparski, Richard. Whatever Became of … ? 4th Series. NY: Crown, 1973.