Edna Best

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A woman of the time, Edna Best was quick to appreciate the influence the Art Deco movement had impacted on a broad spectrum of disciplines in art. Her movie career will be remembered foremost spanning four decades from the nineteen twenties through to the fifties. She became part of the fast developing film industry, firstly at home and them in Hollywood. Her versatility and natural design abilities enabled Edna to adapt effectively between different genres - highlighted especially in her ceramic designs during the Art Deco period of the thirties. Other disciplines that she became involved with include dance and later in her career, radio production.

The likes of Clarice Cliff, working for Wilkinson's, are an obvious influence upon the Art Deco ceramic designs of Edna Best. The widespread use of geometric designs and bold 'slabs' of bright colour emulate the 'Bizarre' range launched by Clarice Cliff, though Edna's works have a distinct design quality of their own exemplified by the meticulous application of the paint. Output is stamped 'Edna Best, Lawleys' (Lawleys being a Regent Street retail outlet in London which exclusively sold Edna's wares). The ceramics designed by Edna Best were manufactured in the Staffordshire Potteries at the Pearl Pottery.

Born in Hove in England on the 3rd March 1900, Edna Best went on to be educated in nearby Brighton and at the age of seventeen started her career on the stage. She made her mark however in 1926 in the stage production of 'The constant Nymph' , based on the 1924 novel written by Margaret Kennedy. Although her career focussed mostly on stage work she did however star in a number of movies, notably in the part of socialite sharp-shooting mother Jill Laurence in the Gaumont-British film 'The Man Who Knew Too Much', directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Betty Laurence, her screen daughter was played by Nova Pilbeam, child star. She appeared also in 'Intermezzo' in 1939 and in the 1940 version of 'Swiss Family Robinson' in which she played 'Elizabeth Robinson'. Other Edna Best film credits include: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) and 'The Late George Apley' (1947). She was nominated for an 'Emmy' award in 1957 for her part in 'This Happy Breed'.

In 1928 Edna Best married fellow actor Herbert Marshall. They had one daughter, also to become an actress, Sarah Marshall. Herbert Marshall co-starred with Edna in films such as 'The Calendar' (1931) and 'Michael and Mary' (1931). She followed her husband into Hollywood in the early part of the nineteen thirties but in 1940 they were sadly divorced. She continued with character acting but her work in radio was to take priority where she produced shows such as the highly popular series, Sherlock Holmes starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

Edna's stage productions include Peter Pan at the St. James's Theatre in London's King Street, which ran 1920-21, also starring Harry Ainley as Captain Hook. She played the lead roll in the New York stage production of George Bernhard Shaw's play, Captain Brassbound's Conversion. In 1950 she acted along side Margaret Phillips, Basil Rathbone and John Dall in 'The Heiress' by Augustus Goetz.

In 1974 Edna Best died in Geneva in Switzerland. She is recognised in the 'Hollywood Walk of Fame' for her input to the motion picture industry opposite 6124 Hollywood Boulevard.


Tilly of Bloomsbury (1921)

Genre: Comedy
Credited cast: Edna Best (Tilly Welwyn), Lottie Blackford (Mrs. Banks), Georgette de Nove (Martha Welwyn - as Georgette Desmond), Campbell Gullan (Percy Welwyn), Helen Haye (Lady Adela Mainwaring), Isabel Jeans (Sylvia Mainwaring), Henry Kendall (Dick Mainwaring), Vera Lennox (Amelia Mainwaring), Frederick Lewis (Abel Mainwaring - as Fred Lewis), Leonard Pagden (Lucius Welwyn), Tom Reynolds (Samuel Stillbottle)
Director: Rex Wilson
Credited writer: Ian Hay
Country: UK
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Silent

A Couple of Down and Outs (1923)

Genre: Drama
Credited cast: Edna Best (Molly Roarke), Rex Davis (Danny Creath), George Foley (P.C. Roake), Philip Hewland
Director: Walter Summers
Producer: G.B. Samuelson
Credited writer: Walter Summers

Beyond the Cities (1930)

Genre: Adventure/Drama
Credited cast: Carlyle Blackwell Sr. (Jim Campbell), Edna Best (Mary Hayes), Alexander Field (Sam), Laurence Hanray (Gregory Hayes), Helen Haye (Amy Hayes), Eric Maturin (Hector Braydon), Percy Parsons (Boss)
Director: Carlyle Blackwell Sr.
Producer: Carlyle Blackwell Sr.
Credited writers: Carlyle Blackwell Sr., Noel Shannon
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono

Escape (1930)

Genre: Drama/Crime
Credited cast: Gerald du Maurier (Captain Matt Denant), Madeleine Carroll (Dora), Felix Aylmer (Governor), Edna Best (Shingled Lady), Nigel Bruce (Constable), Ann Casson (Girl), Lewis Casson (Farmer), George Curzon (Constable), Ben Field (Captain), Fred Groves (Shopkeeper), Gordon Harker (Convict), Horace Hodges (Gentleman), Ian Hunter (Detective), Phyllis Konstam (Wife), Marie Ney (Grace), Mabel Poulton (Girl of the Town), Austin Trevor (Parson), S.J. Warmington (Warder)
Director: Basil Dean
Credited writers: Basil Dean , John Galsworthy (play)
Country: UK
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono

Loose Ends (1930)

Genre: Crime/Drama
Credited cast: Edna Best (Nina Grant ), Owen Nares (Malcolm Ferres), Miles Mander (Raymond Carteret), Adrianne Allen (Brenda Fallon), Sybil Arundale (Sally Britt), Donald Calthrop (Winton Penner), Edna Davies (Deborah Price), J. Fisher White (Stranger), Gerard Lyley (Cyril Gayling)
Director: Norman Walker
Credited writers: Dion Titheradge (play), Norman Walker
Cinematography: Claude Friese-Greene
Editor: Emile DeAuelle
Country: UK
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono

Sleeping Partners (1930)

Genre: Comedy
Credited cast: Seymour Hicks (He), Edna Best (She), Lyn Harding (It), Herbert Waring (Emile), Marguerite Allan (Elise), David Paget (Virtuoso)
Director: Seymour Hicks
Credited writer: Sacha Guitry (play), Seymour Hicks
Country: UK
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono

The Calendar (1931)

AKA: Bachelor's Folly (USA)

Genre: Drama
Credited cast: Herbert Marshall (Gerry Anson), Edna Best (Jill Panniford), Anne Grey (Wenda Panniford), Gordon Harker (Sam Hillcott), Nigel Bruce (Lord Willie Panniford), Alfred Drayton (John Dory), Leslie Perrins (Henry Lascarne), Alan Aynesworth (Edmund Garth)
Unredited cast: Melville Cooper (Mr. Wayne)
Director: T. Hayes Hunter
Credited writers: Robert Stevenson , Edgar Wallace (play)
Cinematography: Alex Bryce, Bernard Knowles
Country: UK
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono

Michael and Mary (1931)

Genre: Drama
Credited cast: Herbert Marshall - Edna Best’s husband (Michael Rowe), Edna Best (Mary Rowe), Frank Lawton (David Rowe), Elizabeth Allan (Romo), D.A. Clarke-Smith (Harry Price), Ben Field (Tullivant), Margaret Yarde (Mrs. Tullivant), Sunday Wilshin (Violet Cunliffe)
Director: Victor Saville
Producer: Michael Balcon
Credited writers: Lajos Biró , Angus MacPhail, A.A. Milne (play), Robert Stevenson
Cinematography: Leslie Rowson
Editor: Ian Dalrymple, John Goldman
Country: UK
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono

The Faithful Heart (1932)

AKA: Faithful Hearts (USA)
Genre: Drama/Romance
Credited cast: Herbert Marshall – Edna Best’s husband (Waverly Ango), Edna Best (Blackie Anderway/Blackie's Daughterc), Anne Grey (Diana), Athole Stewart (Sir Gilbert Oughterson), Laurence Hanray (Major Ango (as Lawrence Hanray)), Mignon O'Doherty (Miss Gattiscombe), Unredited cast: Griffith JonesDirector: Victor Saville
Producer: Michael Balcon
Credited writers: Lajos Biró (scenario), Monckton Hoffe (play), Angus MacPhail (scenario), Victor Saville (adaptation), Robert Stevenson (scenario)
Cinematography: Mutz Greenbaum
Country: UK
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono

The Key (1934)

Genre: Drama
Credited cast: William Powell (Captain Bill Tennant), Edna Best (Norah Kerr), Colin Clive (Captain Andrew 'Andy' Kerr, Hobart Cavanaugh (Homer, Tennant's Aide), Halliwell Hobbes (General C.O. Furlong), Donald Crisp (Peadar Conlan), J.M. Kerrigan (O'Duffy), Henry O'Neill (Dan), Phil Regan (Young Irishman Killed by Andrew), Arthur Treacher (Lt. Merriman, Furlong's Aide), Maxine Doyle (Pauline O'Connor), Arthur Aylesworth (Kirby), Gertrude Short (Evie a Barmaid), Anne Shirley (Flower Girl - as Dawn O'Day)
Uncredited cast: Edward Cooper (Lloyd), Luke Cosgrave (Man Praising Conla), Lowin Cross (Dispatch Rider), John Elliott (Padre), Eddie Fetherston (Man with Dan), Douglas Gordon (Telegraph Operator), Aggie Herring (Flower Woman), Robert Homans (Patrick, a Bartender), Olaf Hytten (First Regular), Charles Irwin (Master of Ceremonies), Lew Kelly, Angular Man), Dixie Loftin (Irish Woman) Mary MacLaren (Street Walker), James May (Driver), Ralph Remley (Mack, Rivoli Bartender), Desmond Roberts (Regular), Pat Somerset (Laramour), Wyndham Standing (Officer), David Thursby (Second Regular), Kathrin Clare Ward (Flower Woman)
Director: Michael Curtiz
Producer: Robert Presnell Sr.
Credited writers: Laird Doyle, R. Gore Brown (play), J.L. Hardy (play)
Cinematography: Ernest Haller
Editor: Thomas Richards
Country: USA
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono/Vitaphone

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Genre: Thriller
Credited cast: Leslie Banks (Bob Lawrence), Edna Best (Jill Lawrence), Peter Lorre (Abbott), Frank Vosper (Ramon Levine), Hugh Wakefield (Clive), Nova Pilbeam (Betty Lawrence), Pierre Fresnay (Louis Bernard), Cicely Oates (Nurse Agnes), ,D.A. Clarke-Smith (Binstead - as D.A. Clarke Smith), George Curzon (Gibson)
Uncredited cast: Frank Atkinson (Policeman), Clare Greez (Mrs. Sprocket), Joan Harrison (Secretary), James Knight (Police Inspector), Henry Oscar (Dentist), Charles Paton (Shopkeeper), Frederick Piper (Policeman), H.G. Stoker (Police Chief), Jack Vyvian (Policeman), Percy Walsh (Detective Inspector), Hal Walters (Postman), S.J. Warmington (Rawlings)
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Producer: Ivor Montagu, Michael Balcon
Credited writers: Edwin Greenwood (scenario), A.R. Rawlinson (scenario), Charles Bennett (story), D.B. Wyndham-Lewis (story), Emlyn Williams (additional dialogue)
Cinematography: Curt Courant
Editor: Hugh Stewart
Country: UK
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono (British Acoustic)

Prison Without Bars (1938)

Genre: Drama
Credited cast: Corinne Luchaire (Suzanne), Edna Best (Yvonne Chanel), Barry K. Barnes (Dr. Georges Marechal), Mary Morris (Renee), Lorraine Clewes Alice, Sally Wisher Julie, Martita Hunt Mme. Appel, Margaret Yarde (Mlle. Artemise), Elsie Shelton (Mme. Remy), Glynis Johns (Nina), Phyllis Morris (Mlle. Pauline), Nancy Roberts (Mlle. Dupont), Enid Lindsey (Mlle. Renard), Elsie Shelton (Mme. Remy), Glynis Johns (Nina), Phyllis Morris (Mlle. Pauline), Nancy Roberts (Mlle. Dupont) Enid Lindsey (Mlle. Renard)
Uncredited cast: Anne Crawford, Joan Ellum, Verena Rice (Marta), Ronald Shiner
Director: Brian Desmond Hurst
Producer: Arnold Pressburger
Credited writers: Egon Eis (play), Otto Eis (play)
Cinematography: Georges Périnal
Editor: Charles Crichton
Country: UK
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono

South Riding (1938)

Genre: Drama
Credited cast: Edna Best (Sarah Barton), Ralph Richardson (Robert Carne), Edmund Gwenn (Alfred Huggins), Ann Todd (Madge Carne), Marie Lohr (Mrs. Beddows), Milton Rosmer (Alderman Snaith), John Clements (Joe Astell), Edward Lexy (Mr. Holly), Joan Ellum (Lydia Holly), Glynis Johns (Midge Carne), Josephine Wilson (Mrs. Holly), Gus McNaughton (Tadman), Herbert Lomas (Castle), Peggy Novak (Bessie Warbuckle), Lewis Casson, (Lord Sedgmire), Felix Aylmer (Chairman of Council), Jean Cadell (Miss Dry), Skelton Knaggs (Reg. Aythorne), Laura Smithson (Mrs. Brimsley), Florence Gregson (Mrs. Molton)
Uncredited cast: Davina Craig, Beckett Bould (Building Site Foreman), Madge Brindley (Psalm Singer), Arthur Hambling (Village Doctor), Ralph Truman (Doctor in nursing home)
Director: Victor Saville
Producers: Stanley Haynes (assistant producer), Alexander Korda, Victor Saville
Credited writers: Donald Bull, Ian Dalrymple, Winifred Holtby
Cinematography: Harry Stradling Sr.
Editor: Hugh Stewart
Country: UK
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono

Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939)

AKA: Escape to Happiness (UK), Intermezzo (USA) (short title), Intermezzo: A Love Story (USA promotional title)
Genre: Romance/Drama
Credited cast: Leslie Howard (Holger Brandt), Ingrid Bergman (Anita Hoffman), Edna Best (Margit Brandt), John Halliday (Thomas Stenborg), Cecil Kellaway (Charles Moler – impressario), Enid Bennett (Greta Stenborg), Ann E. Todd (Ann Marie Brandt - as Ann Todd), Douglas Scott (Eric Brandt)
Eleanor Wesselhoeft (Emma - the maid, Marie Flynn (Marianne)
Uncredited cast: Holmes Herbert (The Doctor), Edmund Mortimer (Extra)
Director: Gregory Ratoff
Producers: Leslie Howard (associate), David O. Selznick
Writer credits: Gösta Stevens (original 1936 film screenplay), Gustaf Molander (original 1936 film screenplay)
Editor: Francis D. Lyon
Country: USA
Visual format: Black and White
Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Swiss Family Robinson (1940)

Genre: Adventure
Credited cast: Thomas Mitchell (William Robinson), Edna Best (Elizabeth Robinson), Freddie Bartholomew (Jack Robinson), Terry Kilburn (Ernest Robinson), Tim Holt (Fritz Robinson), Bobbie Quillan (Francis Robinson - as Baby Bobbie Quillan), Christian Rub (Thoren), John Wray (Ramsey), Herbert Rawlinson (Captain)
Uncredited cast: Orson Welles (Narration)
Director: Edward Ludwig
Producers: C. Graham Baker, Gene Towne
Writer credit: C. Graham Baker , Walter Ferris, Gene Towne, Johann David Wyss (novel)
Cinematography: Nicholas Musuraca
Editor: George Crone
Country: USA
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono

A Dispatch from Reuters (1940)

Genre: Drama
Credited cast: Edward G. Robinson (Paul Julius Reuter), Edna Best (Ida Magnus Reuter), Eddie Albert (Max Wagner), Albert Bassermann (Franz Geller), Gene Lockhart (Otto Bauer), Otto Kruger (Dr. Magnus), Nigel Bruce (Sir Randolph Persham), Montagu Love (Mr. John Delane), James Stephenson (Carew), Walter Kingsford (Louis Napoleon III), David Bruce (Mr. Bruce), Dickie Moore (Julius Reuter as a Boy), Billy Dawson (Max Wagner as a Boy), Richard Nichols (The 5 year old Herbert Reuter), Lumsden Hare (Chairman)
Director: William Dieterle
Producers: Henry Blanke (associate), Hal B. Wallis (executive)
Writer credit: Valentine Williams (story), Wolfgang Wilhelm (story)
Country: USA
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono (RCA Sound System)

The Late George Apley (1947)

Genre: Comedy
Credited cast: Ronald Colman (George Apley), Peggy Cummins (Eleanor Apley), Vanessa Brown (Agnes Willing), Richard Haydn (Horatio Willing), Charles Russell (Howard Boulder), Richard Ney (John Apley), Edna Best (Catherine Apley)
Mildred Natwick (Amelia Newcombe), Percy Waram (Roger Newcombe), Nydia Westman (Jane Willing), Francis Pierlot (Wilson - the Butler)
Uncredited cast: David Bond, Clifford Brooke, Cordelia Campbell (Child Skater), Diana Douglas (Sarah), Helen Freeman (Lydia), Paul Harvey (Julian H. Dole), Kathleen Howard, (Margaret – the maid), Therese Lyon, Mae Marsh (Maid), William F. Moran, Ottola Nesmith (Madame at Shop)
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Producer: Fred Kohlmar
Writer credits: Philip Dunne, George S. Kaufman (play), John P. Marquand (novel), John P. Marquand (play)
Cinematography: Joseph LaShelle
Editor: James B. Clark
Country: USA
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Credited cast: Gene Tierney (Lucy Muir), Rex Harrison (Capt. Daniel Gregg), George Sanders (Miles Fairley), Edna Best (Martha Huggins), Vanessa Brown (Anna Muir as an Adult), Anna Lee (Mrs. Miles Fairley), Robert Coote (Mr. Coombe), Natalie Wood (Anna Muir as a Child), Isobel Elsom (Angelica, Mother-in-law), Victoria Horne (Eva, Sister-in-law)
Uncredited cast: Helen Freeman (Author Displaced by Lucy), Stuart Holmes (Man ejected from train), Whitford Kane (Sproule, London Publisher), Buster Slaven (Enquiries at Sproule's), William Stelling (Anna's Fiancee Bill), Houseley Stevenson (Passerby), David Thursby (Mr. Scroggins), Heather Wilde (Fairley Maid)
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Producer: Fred Kohlmar
Writer credit: R.A. Dick (novel), Philip Dunne, George S. Kaufman (play)
Cinematography: Charles Lang
Editor: Dorothy Spencer
Country: USA
Visual format: Black and White

The Iron Curtain (1948)

AKA: Behind the Iron Curtain (USA - reissue title)
Genre: Thriller
Credited cast: Dana Andrews (Igor Gouzenko), Gene Tierney (Anna Gouzenkova), Stefan Schnabel (Col. Ilya Ranov - embassy attache), Berry Kroeger (John Grubb, aka 'Paul'), Frederic Tozere (Col. Aleksandr Trigorin)
Eduard Franz (Maj. Semyon Kulin), Peter Whitney (Cipher Lt. Vinikov), June Havoc (Nina Karanova), Nicholas Joy (Dr. Harold Preston Norman, aka 'Alec'), Edna Best (Mrs. Albert Foster - neighbour), Noel Cravat (Bushkin), Mauritz Hugo, Leonard Leitz (Member of Parliament), Victor Wood (Capt. Donald P. Class), John Shay (Lt. Pyotr Sergeyev), Reed Hadley (Narrator), Christopher Robin Olsen (Andrei Gouzenko), Leslie Barrie (Editor)
Uncredited cast: Anne Curson (Helen Tweedy - aka 'Nellie'), Helena Dare (Capt. Kulina), John Davidson (Secretary to the Minister of Justice), Michael Dugan (Policeman), Arthur Gould-Porter (Mr. Foster), Eula Morgan (Trigorina), John Ridgely (Officer Murphy), Joe Whitehead (William Hollis)
Director: William A. Wellman
Producer: Sol C. Siegel
Writer credit: Igor Gouzenko (story), Milton Krims
Country: USA
Visual format: Black and White
Sound format: Mono (Western Electric Recording)

AKA: Ford Star Jubilee: This Happy Breed (USA - complete title)
Genre: Drama
Credited cast: Noel Coward (Frank Gibbons), Norah Howard (Mrs. Flint), Edna Best (Ethel), Beulah Garrick (Sylvia), Guy S. Paull (Bob Mitchell), Robert Chapman (Reg), Patricia Cutts (Queenie), Joyce Ash (Vi), Rhod Walker (Sam - as Rhoderick Walker), Sally Pierce, (Phillis Blake), Very Marshall, (Edie), Roger Moore, (Billy)
Director: Noel Coward, Ralph Nelson
Producer: Richard Lewine
Writer credit: Noel Coward (adaption), Noel Coward (play)
Country: USA
Visual format: Colour
Sound format: Mono

This Happy Breed (1956 – TV)

TV Guest Appearances of Note

Hallmark Hall of Fame (February 1959)

Episode: Berkeley Square
Roll: Lady Anne Pettigrew Berkeley Square

The United States Steel Hour (31 August 1955)

Episode: Counterfeit (episode no. 3.5)
Roll: Dorothy

Robert Montgomery Presents (18 April 1955)

Episode: P.J. Martin and Son (episode no. 6.30)

The Philco Television Playhouse (28 December 1952)

Episode: Magic Morning (episode no. 5.8)

Celanese Theatre (14 November 1951)

Episode: Old Acquaintance (episode no. 1.4)

Pulitzer Prize Playhouse (22 June 1951)

Episode: The Pen/You're Not the Type/The Weak Spot (episode no. 1.38)

Art Deco: