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George Brendan Nolan
15 March 1904
|Died||May 26, 1979 (aged 75)|
Solana Beach, California, U.S.
|Years active||1924–1960, 1978|
Helen Louise Campbell
(m. 1925; div. 1927)
(m. 1932; div. 1934)
(m. 1937; div. 1937)
(m. 1942; div. 1943)
(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.
Brent was born in Ballinasloe, County Galway, on March 15, 1904 to John J. and Mary (née McGuinness) Nolan. His mother was a native of Clonfad, Moore, County Roscommon. In September 1915, 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, during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1922), and was involved in the Irish Republican Army. 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), 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.
Brent returned to the United States in August 1921. 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.
He eventually moved to Hollywood, and made his first film, Under Suspicion, in 1930. 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. 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.
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) and Ann Sheridan in Honeymoon for Three (1941).
In 1942, Brent, an accomplished pilot who had tried and, because of age, failed to enlist in the armed services, temporarily retired from films to teach flying as a civilian flight instructor with the Civilian Pilot Training Program and later became a pilot in the US Coast Guard for the duration of the war. His final film for Warner Bros was My Reputation with Barbara Stanwyck as a widow that was filmed from November 1943 to January 1944, and with the exception of military audiences, was not released until 1946. Brent acted on radio during this period.
He returned his career after the conflict; but never recaptured his former popularity starring in films with 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).
Brent drifted into "B" pictures from the late 1940s and retired from film in 1953. 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.
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.
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. Chatterton and Sheridan were both Warner Bros. players. 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.
|1940||Lux Radio Theatre||Wings of the Navy|
|1946||Screen Guild Players||Experiment Perilous|
|1953||Stars over Hollywood||Meet the Hero|
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