Actress. Real name Mary Elizabeth Riggs. Born in Tampa, Florida, she was raised in Brooklyn and worked as a model before making her film debut in 1914. Brent was playing romantic leads onscreen while still in high school, and at 18 she was chosen by John Barrymore as his leading lady in “Raffles the Amateur Cracksman” (1917). After starring in several post-World War I British films she returned to Hollywood in 1922 and was named a “WAMPAS Baby Star” the following year. During the late 1920s she was listed among the Top 20 actresses with box office clout by exhibitor’s polls. A sultry brunette with hawk-like features and piercing eyes, Brent was most effective in vampish roles. She was director Josef von Sternberg’s favorite performer before he discovered Marlene Dietrich and co-starred in three of his silent films, including the masterful “Underworld” (1927), as a gang moll torn between mobster George Bancroft and downtrodden intellectual Clive Brook; and “The Last Command” (1928), a Best Picture Oscar nominee, in which she played a Russian revolutionary who improbably sacrifices herself out of love for Czarist general Emil Jannings. Brent made a smooth transition to talkies but by the late 1930s she was mostly seen in B westerns and serials. She left films in 1948 and ended her Hollywood career as an agent. Her last of three marriages was to stage star Harry Fox, for whom the foxtrot dance was named. He left her a widow in 1959. Among Brent’s other films are “Daybreak” (1918), “Sonia” (1921), “The Imposter” (1926), “The Dragnet” (1928), “The Mating Call” (1928), “The Silver Horde” (1930), “High Pressure” (1932), “The Crusader” (1932), “Hopalong Cassidy Returns” (1936), “The Mad Empress” (1940), “Westward Ho!” (1942), and “The Golden Eye” (1948).
- October, 20, 1901
- July, 21, 1975
- San Fernando Mission Cemetery