Bessie Love was a demure actress who managed to stretch her career from the silent screen well into the era of television despite a lengthy series of pedestrian roles.
D.W. Griffith, the director of "Intolerance," "Birth of a Nation" and other silent epics, fancied her brazenness and cast her as the bride of Cana in the Judean segment of his four-part treatment of prejudice.
Griffith renamed her Bessie Love "because nobody east of the Rockies knows how to pronounce Juanita." The success of his 1915 film made her an overnight star.
She was cast in a series of parts she once described as "sunbonnet girl next door" in "Nina the Flower Girl," "The Great Adventure," "The Yankee Princess," "Human Wreckage" and three dozen more before becoming a self-professed "sequined and spangled showgirl" in "The Broadway Melody." That 1928 production was the first talking picture ventured by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film, also believed to be the industry's first sound musical, brought her an Academy Award nomination.
In 1929 she married film producer William B. Hawks, brother of director Howard Hawks, at St. James Episcopal Church in Pasadena.
After her divorce in 1935, she moved to London, where she was seen in the television miniseries "Edward and Mrs. Simpson" and such films as "Isadora" in 1968 and "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" in 1971. Her final picture was "Ragtime" in 1981.
|1928||Best Actress||The Broadway Melody||Nomination|