January 2, 2017


Betty Balfour (1903-1977) b. London, England.

Betty Balfour

Betty Balfour was without doubt the most popular and most adorable film star that this country has ever produced, or ever will produce.’ In the 1920s, though other stars like Alma Taylor, Chrissie White or Stewart Rome had strong local followings, only Betty Balfour and Ivor Novello ranked in the international popularity polls along with the stars of Hollywood. She was known as the ‘British Mary Pickford’ or as ‘Britain’s Queen of Happiness’, her popularity based on her comic charm and common touch rather than on her sexual allure. Prefiguring Gracie Fields, her most popular creation, Squibs, was based on a music-hall sketch featuring her as a pert, Cockney flower girl.

Under contract till 1925 to the Welsh-Pearson company and directed by George Pearson, Balfour made no attempt to break into Hollywood but like Novello she was able to export her talents to mainland Europe, working with Louis Mercanton on La Petite bonne du palace (1926) and Croquette (1927), and with Marcel L’Herbier on Le Diable au coeur (1926). Her popularity waned with the coming of sound, though she played a supporting role to Jessie Matthews in Evergreen (1934) and appeared with John Mills in Forever England (1935).

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