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Priscilla Bonner

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Priscilla Bonner
Bonner in 1923
Born(1899-02-17)February 17, 1899
DiedFebruary 21, 1996(1996-02-21) (aged 97)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills
Other namesPriscilla B. Woolfan
Years active1920–1929
Allen Wynes Alexander
(m. 1921; div. 1926)
Dr. E. Bertrand Woolfan
(m. 1928; died 1962)

Priscilla Bonner (February 17, 1899 – February 21, 1996) was an American silent film actress who specialized in portraying virginal, innocent heroines.[1]

Early years

Priscilla Bonner
Priscilla Bonner

Priscilla Bonner was born in Washington, D.C. on February 17, 1899.[1] Her father, John S. Bonner, worked for Page Fence and served as an officer in Company B of the local National Guard Unit. At the start of World War I the company was activated for service, and her father started his career as an Army officer. The family moved often, and she spent much of her life in different places. She often play acted to amuse herself, playing all the parts and shifting the sets.[2] While her father was stationed in Chicago, assigned to the staff of General Leonard Wood, she received a call from someone connected with Chicago Photoplay, insisting she come to their studio for photographs. Although realizing it was likely a wrong number, Bonner went. Intrigued by her bold initiative and photogenic charisma, the studio took portraits of her and sent them to film studios in California.[3] Her parents allowed to travel to Los Angeles.


In 1916 when living in Adrian, Michigan, Bonner answered an open call to audition for the movie The Romance of Miss Adrian. Using her dance skills she won a part in the picture.

In Los Angeles, she met Charles Ray, and appeared in the 1920 film Homer Comes Home, after being signed by MGM that year. She went on to co-star with Jack Pickford in The Man Who Had Everything (1920), Lon Chaney, Sr. in Shadows (1922), Colleen Moore in April Showers, and comedian Harry Langdon in The Strong Man. In 1925 she successfully sued Warner Bros. and won a substantial cash settlement when she was originally chosen and then dropped as leading lady from John Barrymore's The Sea Beast in favor of Barrymore's new real life love interest Dolores Costello.

Priscilla Bonner, scene from Drusilla with a Million (1925)
Priscilla Bonner, scene from Drusilla with a Million (1925)

That same year she starred in the controversial independent film The Red Kimono produced and directed by Dorothy Davenport, the widow of Wallace Reid. In 1927, Bonner was loaned to Paramount Pictures to co-star in the box office hit It, starring Clara Bow.[4]

Personal life

In 1921, she married writer and author Allen Wynes Alexander.[5] A little over a year later, he left her. She sued for divorce,[6] but later dismissed the case.[7]

In 1928, Bonner married Dr. E. Bertrand Woolfan. She retired from films the following year. The couple were popular hosts to the burgeoning Los Angeles literary and film community, and particularly befriended Preston Sturges, the writer and director. On February 21, 1996, Bonner died at the age of 97.[8]

Her younger sister was actress and writer Margerie Bonner.[9]


Year Title Role Notes
1920 Homer Comes Home Rachel Prouty
1920 Honest Hutch Ellen
1920 The Man Who Had Everything Prue Winn
1920 Officer 666 Sadie
1921 The Son of Wallingford Mary Curtis
1921 Bob Hampton of Placer Schoolteacher
1921 Home Stuff Susan Deep
1922 Shadows Mary Brent
1923 Gallopin' Through
1923 The Purple Dawn Ruth Ketchell
1923 Where's My Wandering Boy This Evening?
1923 Pitfalls of a Big City Alternative title: The Pitfalls of a Great City
1923 April Showers Shannon O'Rourke
1924 A Desperate Adventure
1924 Hold Your Breath The Sister
1924 Tarnish Aggie
1924 Chalk Marks Betty Towner
1925 Charley's Aunt Kitty
1925 The Mansion of Aching Hearts A City Girl
1925 Proud Flesh San Francisco Girl
1925 The White Desert Mrs. Foster
1925 Drusilla with a Million Sally May Ferris
1925 Eyes of Hollywood
1925 The Red Kimono Gabrielle Darley
1926 The Earth Woman Sally
1926 3 Bad Men Millie Stanley
1926 The Strong Man Mary Brown
1926 The False Alarm Bessie Flannigan
1927 It Molly
1927 Long Pants His Bride (Priscilla)
1927 Paying the Price
1927 The Prince of Headwaiters Faith Cable
1927 Broadway After Midnight Queenie Morgan/Gloria Livingston Alternative title: Gangsters on Broadway
1928 Outcast Souls Alice Davis
1928 Golden Shackles Lucy Weston
1929 Girls Who Dare Sally Casey


  1. ^ a b Slide, Anthony (September 12, 2010). Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-2708-8. Retrieved January 13, 2021.
  2. ^ Bean, Daisy (September 7, 1920). "News Notes from Movie Land". The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union. Rock Island, Illinois. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  3. ^ Eliot, Jean (August 1, 1920). "Washington Society Girl Proves Star of Films". The Washington Times. Washington, D.C. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  4. ^ Villecco 2001, pp. 22, 30
  5. ^ "Priscella Bonner to Wed; Plans Aerial Honeymoon". Evening Public Ledger. Philadelphia, PA. May 18, 1921. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  6. ^ "Pretty Priscella Bonner Appeals to Los Angeles Judge". The Washington Times. Washington DC. August 27, 1922. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  7. ^ "Movie Actress Sues Manager". The Fairmont West Virginian. Fairmont, WV. September 2, 1922. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
  8. ^ Villecco 2001, pp. 33, 34
  9. ^ "Margerie Lowry, 83, Actress and a Writer". The New York Times. October 4, 1988. p. D 28. ProQuest 110391286. Retrieved January 13, 2021 – via ProQuest.
  • Villecco, Tony (2001). Silent Stars Speak: Interviews With Twelve Cinema Pioneers. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0814-6.
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Priscilla Bonner
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