Evelyn Brent: The Life and Films of Hollywood’s Lady Crook

Evelyn Brent’s life and career were going quite well in 1928. Following her divorce from producer Bernard Fineman, she was happily living with writer Dorothy Herzog. The couple was often seen enjoying lunch at the Montmartre Café, and Brent had recently had a cabin built in the San Bernardino Mountains. The tiny brunette actress had wowed film fans and critics with recent appearances in the silent films The Underworld and The Last Command. She’d also been a sensation in Paramount’s first dialogue film Interference. However, by the end of 1928 she was headed toward a quick, downward spiral, ending in bankruptcy, divorce, and occasional work as a film extra. The story of what happened is a complicated one laced with bad luck, poor decisions, and treachery.

For the first time ever, Evelyn’s story is told in a book by Lynn Kear, author of Kay Francis: A Passionate Life and Career and Laurette Taylor, American Stage Legend, with James King, creator of the  Pre-Code Cinema Blog. With a foreword by noted film historian Kevin Brownlow, this is the first biography written about the enigmatic movie actress. The book, which also includes an extensive filmography, is available from all book sellers including Amazon.

The book is available through all booksellers, including Amazon. Further information is available from my publisher’s website:

http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-5922-3

“Copious quotes from co-stars, writers, tradepapers and film researchers are enlisted to present a vivid picture of a highly overlooked actress. All of Brent’s films are painstakingly detailed in a 137 page filmography. The big bonus to her bio is the abundant parade of background and reference notes and information on her numerous co-stars. A laudable bio in every respect.” Western Clippings

“Here is a book…of which it is immediately obvious that very extensive research was involved. Lynn Kear has put together an incredible biography which leaves out nothing in terms of its subject’s lesbian activities, two marriages and third relationship with a man to whom she possibly was not married…. It is a book that deserves to do well and one that serves Evelyn Brent well.” Anthony Slide

“Author Kear delves deeply into the life and work of Evelyn Brent in her book, providing the ups and downs of her career, and her consistent strength throughout all of the highs and lows…. Along with biographical details, Kear also provides an exceptional filmography, annotated with complete information including excerpts from several period reviews….This book is certainly recommended for film historians and scholars, and a must for libraries….” James L. Neibaur, Roguecinema.com

“A refreshingly worthy addition to the Entertainment Biography genre…compelling and important book on a neglected star.” DAEIDA

“Kear, who authored an earlier book on Kay Francis, has done a more than worthwhile job in telling Brent’s remarkable story.” Thomas Gladysz, Louise Brooks Society

“Lynn Kear and James King undertook a nearly impossible task when they decided to wrote a biography of silent star Evelyn Brent. While there was a wealth of information about her just about all of it came from fan magazine from the time, which are notorious for not caring about pesky facts and are more interested in telling a good story, true or not. The authors did an admirable job, sifting through thousands of pages of interviews, stories and notices about the actress and trying to separate a publicity agent’s fiction from the facts…. This first biography of Brent is a good read, interesting and well researched….This work presents an interesting look at what life was like for a middle of the road star in the late 20’s and early 30’s. This book is recommended, especially for students of the silent and early sound era.” Jason Bailey and John Sinnott, dvdtalk.com

“It is a story all too familiar to those who study the history of early Hollywood— a bright film star, seemingly secure in her life and career, whose personal history takes a sudden, inexplicable turn for the worse into bankruptcy and bit parts….What makes Brent’s story, and Kear’s biography, fascinating is that this narrative doesn’t have the typical Hollywood fade-out. Brent’s life did not end with an early death, and she was not broken by the loss of fortune and career. This strength of character, so evident in many of her films, served Brent well in her old age….With meticulous research and a detailed filmography, this first full-length biography of Brent is recommended for anyone reading on the transition from silent to sound films, women in early film, or silent stars and the Hollywood studio system.” Library Journal

“This well-researched biography traces in great detail the on- and off-camera life of the enigmatic Brent, who often seemed her own worst enemy…. Another intriguing aspect in the roller coaster life of the talented Brent was her close friendship, over the years, to several women. This dimensional biography documents these relationships, as well as the detailed of her failed marriages. Especially useful are the extensive chapter notes and the comprehensive filmography notes.” James Robert Parish

Film scholar Lynn Kear, who has published two well-received volumes on the life and career of glamorous leading lady Kay Francis, now turns her attention to another siren of the classic era. In the early 1930s, Evelyn Brent seemed to have successfully made the transition from silent to sound film, and was poised on the brink of major stardom. Within a few years, her starring roles were behind her, and before long she was happy to get minor roles in Poverty Row releases. What happened?!! The answers are here in Kear and James King’s book, which resembles a detective story in its unflagging efforts to uncover the mystery that is Brent’s life and career. The book contains both a biography, highlighted by a touching portrait of the fallen star’s final years, and an amazingly detailed filmography, even more impressive because so many of Brent’s films are lost or available in archival collections only.” David C. Tucker

“I love the title of the book because that was what Brent was best at: playing lady crooks, with pizzazz and a lot of moxie…. When Brent entered the 1930s, made the wrong decisions, did vaudeville and lesser movies, the narrative…is at its best. The 1960s and ’70s…are very well handled and interesting because of interviews and Kear’s keen sense of drama… Kear captured Brent’s personality very well.” Classic Images

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