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Betty Balfour

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Betty Balfour was a silent English screen actress, known as the "British Mary Pickford" and as "Britain's Queen of Happiness". Her sympathetic portrayals were often tinged with pathos.

Balfour was the most popular actress in Britain in the 1920s and, in 1927, was named by the Daily Mirror as the country's favourite world star.

Like fellow actor Ivor Novello, Balfour resisted the temptation to break into Hollywood films and instead focus her career in Europe, including appearances in Marcel L'Herbier's Le Diable au Coeur (1928), Louis Mercanton's Croquette (1928) and Géza von Bolváry's Bright Eyes (1929).

Her career in England most spanned the 1920s and 30s, most notably her portrayal of the lead character in the Squibs series of comedies and in Alfred Hitchcock's Champagne (1928).

By the mid 1930s, film roles had dried up and her final screen appearance was alongside Gordon Harker in Henry Cass' 29 Acacia Avenue (1945).

Her marriage to composer Jimmy Campbell failed in the early 1940s and Balfour was unable to reignite her acting career.

A virtual recluse for the last two decades of her life, she died in November 1977, aged 74. Her death went largely unreported in the major British newspapers.


With Hitchcock...

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Selection of film frames: Betty Balfour (click image to view larger version or refresh thumbnails)...

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  • date of birth uncertain: 27/Mar/1903 is frequently cited, but 1902 is more likely with 23/Mar/1902 given on her death registry entry
  • likely born Elizabeth Balfour in Chester Le Street, Durham[1], the daughter of hotel barman Alexander Balfour (b. ~1861) and Margret Balfour (b. ~1861), and sister of Jane Balfour (b. ~1900)
  • died 04/Nov/1977 in Weybridge, Surrey, England
  • buried at Weybridge Cemetery, Surrey, England


  • married 1931 to songwriter James Alexander Campbell Tyrie (b. 1903)[2] in the south of France — divorced 23/Sep/1941


Notes & References

  1. Birth registered Q1 1902 Chester Le Street. Studio publicity material claimed she was born in Hampstead, London.
  2. Married 1945 to Doris Lucille Perry (b. 1896). Died 1967 in Harefield, London.