Family & Companions
Gentlemanly Broadway lead who made his screen debut in "Under Suspicion" (1930). Initially a slightly tough talking New York type, Brent proved an effective romantic foil to a wide variety of dominant female stars of the 1930s and 40s, most notably at Warner Brothers, where he was tenured from 1932 to 1942. Capable of playing the strong but silent type, or the urbane and cynical, Brent often spent his screen time desiring his leading lady or being pursued by her. His playing was invariably professional and amiable if not dynamic or idiosyncratic, and so he proved a natural in "women's films" in which the focus was securely on a more galvanizing female actor who was a bigger star. Among his female paramours over the years were Bebe Daniels ("42nd Street," 1933), Greta Garbo ("The Painted Veil," 1934), Ginger Rogers ("In Person," 1935), Myrna Loy ("The Rains Came," 1939), Barbara Stanwyck ("My Reputation," 1946), and Claudette Colbert ("Bride for Sale," 1949).
Brent most often appeared as romantic lead in deferential support to three of Warners' classiest star actresses: Kay Francis ("Living on Velvet," 1935, "Give Me Your Heart," 1936, "Secrets of an Actress," 1938), Ruth Chatterton ("The Crash," 1932, "Female," 1933), to whom he was married from 1932 to 1934; and, particularly, Bette Davis ("Front Page Woman," 1935, "Jezebel," 1938, "Dark Victory," 1939, "The Great Lie," 1941). He also occasionally enjoyed a role off the beaten path, as in Robert Siodmak's memorable Gothic melodrama, "The Spiral Staircase" (1946). Brent sustained his prolific output after he and Warners parted company, but his films gradually diminished in importance in the later 40s. Very much a leading man type, he never made the transition to character roles, and so left the cinema in 1953 after appearing in a series of minor efforts. Two of his other four wives were actresses Constance Worth and Ann Sheridan (opposite whom he made "Honeymoon for Three," 1941). Brent came out of retirement for 1978's "Born Again."
Cast (Feature Film)
Film debut in "Under Suspicion"
Joined Warner Brothers
Left Warner Brothers
One-shot return to film acting, "Born Again"