Edna Best (Edna Best)

Edna Best

Edna Best (3 March 1900 – 18 September 1974) was a British actress. Born in Hove, Sussex, England, she was educated in Brighton and later studied dramatic acting under Miss Kate Rorke who was the first Professor of Drama at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. Best was known on the London stage before she entered films in 1921, having made her debut at the Grand Theatre, Southampton in Charley’s Aunt in 1917. She also won a silver swimming cup as the lady swimming champion of Sussex. She is best remembered for her role as the mother in the original 1934 film version of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. Among her other film credits are Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939), Swiss Family Robinson (1940), The Late George Apley and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (both 1947) and The Iron Curtain (1948). She received a nomination for an Emmy Award in 1957 for her role in This Happy Breed. Best had appeared on television as early as 1938, in a production of the play Love from a Stranger, adapted from the Agatha Christie short story Philomel Cottage by Frank Vosper. The Wednesday afternoon broadcast was aired live, not recorded and could be seen only in London due to the limitations of the nascent technology.

Best was married three times and divorced twice. Her first marriage, to William Seymour Beard, ended in divorce in 1928. The London Divorce Court gave Beard custody of the couple’s twins (James and John Beard) in granting the divorce “owing to the misconduct of his wife, Miss Best, with Mr. Marshall.” The “Mr. Marshall” referred to was actor Herbert Marshall, whose divorce from Hilda Lloyd Marshall (“owing to the misconduct of her husband … with … Miss Edna Best”) was granted in the same court session. Best later was married to Marshall from November 28, 1928, until 1940, and they had a daughter, actress Sarah Marshall. She married talent agent Nat Wolff 7 February 1940, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The judge “who granted the divorce [from Marshall] after a five minute closed hearing, performed the marriage a few minutes later.” Best suffered a stroke in 1959. Edna Best has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to Motion Pictures at 6124 Hollywood Boulevard. She died in Geneva, Switzerland in 1974, aged 74.

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  • March, 03, 1900
  • United Kingdom
  • Hove, Sussex, England


  • September, 18, 1974
  • Geneva, Switzerland


  • Cremated

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