Mary Brian was an American actress and movie star who made the transition from ‘silents’ to ‘talkies’.
She was born Louise Byrdie Dantzler in Corsicana, Texas, the daughter of Taurrence J. Dantzler and Louise B. Her brother was Taurrence J. Dantzler, Jr. Her father died when she was one month old and the family later moved to Dallas. In the early 1920s, they moved to Long Beach, California. She had intended becoming an illustrator but that was laid aside when at age 16 she was discovered in a local bathing beauty contest. One of the judges was famous motion picture star Esther Ralston. She didn’t win the $25 prize in the contest but Ralston said, “you’ve got to give the little girl something.” So, her prize was to be interviewed by director Herbert Brenon for a role in Peter Pan. Brenon was recovering from eye surgery, and she spoke with him in a dimly lit room. “He asked me a few questions, Is that your hair? Out of the blue, he said, I would like to make a test. Even to this day, I will never know why I was that lucky. They had made tests of every ingénue in the business for Wendy. He had decided he would go with an unknown. It would seem more like a fairy tale. It wouldn’t seem right if the roles were to be taken by someone they knew or was divorced. I got the part. They put me under contract.” The studio renamed her Mary Brian.