Priscilla is one of only a handful of stars that I knew about before I became head over heels in love with silent films. I had first read about her in the book "What Ever Happened To..." by Richard Lamparski. There are quite a few books in this series and they are all great reads, very fun, so check them out if you can! I remember seeing the picture of Priscilla and her sister and reading the biography about her. It was only a short while later that I saw her playing Clara Bow's friend and roommate in It.
Priscilla Bonner was born on February 17, 1899 in Washington, D.C. She was the oldest child born to John and Mable Bonner, followed shortly after by brothers Albert and Perry, and sister, Marjorie.
She made her film debut in 1920 in the MGM film Homer Comes Home. She was soon appearing in films with such big names as Lon Chaney and Colleen Moore.
In 1925, Priscilla caused some waves in Hollywood when she sued Warner Bros. studio for having been fired from the film The Sea Beast. The film was a starring vehicle for John Barrymore and apparently he wanted Priscilla out and his new love, Dolores Costello, in the role instead. Amazingly enough (for that time) Priscilla won the case, and a nice big check to boot. She also received a written apology from Barrymore himself. I wonder what it said...
The trial didn't seem to slow her stride though because a few years later she was appearing in films with some lovely flapper stars like Olive Borden and Clara Bow. She made her last film appearance in 1929.
Priscilla Bonner passed away on February 21, 1996 in Los Angeles.
She was buried at Forest Lawn in Hollywood Hills.
Priscilla was married twice. She married Allen Wynes Alexander in 1922, but divorced him in 1926. Her last husband was Dr. E Bertrand Woolfan in 1928. They remained married until his death in 1962. Neither marriage produced any children.
She never appeared in a talking picture. She chose her personal life over a movie career. Her film retirement came right after her marriage to Dr. Woolfan. I also read somewhere that she suffered an injury to her eye right around the same time and that also could have been why she chose to retire then.
Later in life, Priscilla and her sister Marjorie were both widowed and childless, so they decided to live together in an apartment.
I should also note that Marjorie Bonner was also a film actress, but as she put it, "I lacked Priscilla's ambition. Acting was never a serious thing with me. I'm not a bit sorry. I never missed pictures." It seems that she was more famous for being the wife of author, Malcolm Lowry.
|Marjorie and Priscilla Bonner|
"My voice was fine (for talkies). But my husband did not want me in pictures. I never stopped missing it though. There's no substitute for that kind of attention. But I made an agreement and I kept it." ~~ Priscilla Bonner