Ben Lyon was an American film actor and a 20th Century Fox studio executive.
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Lyon entered films in 1918 after a successful appearance on Broadway opposite Jeanne Eagels. He attracted attention in the highly successful film Flaming Youth, and steadily developed into a leading man. He was most successfully paired with some of the leading actresses of the silent era including Pola Negri, Gloria Swanson, Colleen Moore, Barbara La Marr, Viola Dana, Anna Q. Nilsson, Mary Astor and Blanche Sweet.
His greatest success as an actor came in 1930 with the film Hell’s Angels. The film was a major success and brought Jean Harlow to prominence, but Lyon’s performance as an heroic World War I aviator was also highly regarded. For the next decade he was constantly in demand, but his popularity began to wane by the early 1940s.
By the mid 1940s he was working for 20th Century Fox. In 1946 he met a young aspiring actress named Norma Jeane Dougherty. After his first meeting with her he stated that she was “Jean Harlow all over again”. He organised a color screen test for the actress, renamed her, and finally signed her as Marilyn Monroe to her first studio contract.