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Helen Chandler was an American stage and film actress born in Charleston, South Carolina on February 1st, 1906. Chandler starred in various theater productions in New York City during the 1920s and became quite successfull; enough so, that she decided to turn her sights towards film.

Helen Chandler was married three times over the course of her life. Her first husband was screenwriter Cyril Hume, whom she was married to from 1930 to 1934 when they divorced. Her second husband was Mummy star Bramwell Fletcher, whom she married on February 14th, 1935. They divorced in 1940. Her third husband was Walter Piascik, whom she was married to until her death in 1965.

Career Edit

Helen's first Hollywood role was playing a character named Jenny in the 1927 silent film drama The Music Master, directed by Allan Dwan, based on a play by David Bellasco. That same year, she also appeared in Dwan's The Joy Girl as a character named Flora. She appeared in three films in 1929 which included Bradley Barker's Mother's Boy where she played Rose Lyndon, James Kevin McGuinness' Salute where she received second billing in the role of Nancy Wayne, and John G. Blystone's adventure film The Sky Hawk where she received top billing in the role of Joan Allan. Helen followed this work up with three films in 1930 including Rough Romance,Mother's Cry and Outward Bound where she played a would-be victim who finds herself on a cruise ship to destiny.

In 1931, Helen Chandler appeared in the film for which she became the most recognized throughout her career, Universal Pictures' production of the Hamilton Deane stage play Dracula, directed by Tod Browning and starring Hungarian actor Béla Lugosi. Helen played the role of Mina Seward, an altered version of the Mina Murray character as first envisioned in author Bram Stoker's original 1897 novel. Initially, Chandler had no desire to work on the film, preferring instead to play the lead role of Alice in Alice in Wonderland, which was eventually released in 1933. The part however went to New York actress Charlotte Henry instead, so Chandler agreed to work on Dracula.

Also in 1931, Chandler worked on Daybreak, Salvation Nell, and The Last Flight where she teamed up Dracula co-star David Manners.

Chandler's career following Dracula was never the runaway success she had hoped it would become. She appeared in a string of forgettable films throughout the rest of the 1930s and her career went into a steep decline by the late 30s as she began battling her addiction to alcohol and sleeping pills. She was hospitalised several times but was unable to gain control over her life. In 1950, Chandler was severely burned in an apartment fire, caused by her falling asleep while smoking. She survived but her body was badly disfigured. Her alcoholism continued unabated after the accident. She died April 30th, 1965 from cardiac arrest during surgery for a stomach ulcer in Hollywood, California. Her remains were cremated in accordance with her wishes, and are interred at Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles. [1][2]

Body of work Edit

Film Edit

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • Archive footage of Chandler's Mina Seward was incorporated into the 1966 Dracula film short.
  • Helen Chandler's counterpart in the Spanish version of Drácula was Eva Seward played by Mexican actress Lupita Tovar.

External Links Edit

References Edit

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Universal Classics Actor or Crew member
This article relates to actors or production crew members pertaining to the Universal Classics era of films. This template will categorize articles that include it into the Universal Classics crew members category.
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Dracula Actor or Crew member
This article relates to actors or production crew members pertaining to the Dracula franchise.
This template will categorize articles that include it into the Dracula crew members category.

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