Childhood & Early Life
Herbert was born Herbert Brough Falcon Marshall, on May 23, 1890, in London, to actor couple Percy F Marshall and Ethel May Turner. He was nicknamed "Bart" by his mother.
After graduating from 'St. Mary's College' in Essex, Herbert took up an accounting job but was fired for his inefficiency. He then joined a theater group as an assistant business manager. Eventually, he worked with a few more theaters and acting companies.
Herbert was raised by his three maternal aunts, as his parents would mostly be traveling for their theater commitments. He joined them only during vacations. The exposure, however, had a negative impact on Herbert, and he decided not to become an actor.
Herbert had to have his right leg amputated after he was shot in the knee on April 9, 1917, during the Second Battle of Arras in France. He was in a state of depression until he decided to return to acting. He, however, managed to hide his artificial limb from the audience.
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Herbert began his acting career with the 1911 play 'The Adventure of Lady Ursula.' In 1913, he appeared as ‘Tommy’ in the play 'Brewster's Millions,' which marked his first theater credit in London. His remarkable performance earned him a place in Cyril Maude’s US and Canadian tour of 'Grumpy.'
Following his war injury, Herbert joined Nigel Playfair's theater group and bagged roles in plays such as 'Make Believe' (1918), 'Abraham Lincoln' (1919), and 'The Younger Generation' (1919). Herbert’s first prominent theater role was in the 1920 play 'Brown Sugar.' He also had significant roles in the Shakespearean plays 'The Merchant of Venice' and 'As You Like It.'
In the subsequent years, Herbert appeared in many American and London-based theater projects. He made his ‘Broadway’ debut with 'The Voice from the Minaret.' From 1923 to 1927, Herbert acted in several plays, such as 'The Pelican,' 'Aren't We All?,' 'Lavender Ladies,' 'The Charming People,' and 'Interference.' Herbert made his big-screen debut in 1927, with the British silent film 'Mumsie.' However, he simultaneously continued to work in theater and delivered several hit plays.
After 'Mumsie,' Herbert made his Hollywood debut with the 1929 Pre-Code drama 'The Letter.' He simultaneously worked in British films such as Alfred Hitchcock's 1930 drama 'Murder!' Back in Hollywood, he appeared in the 1930 Pre-Code film 'Secrets of a Secretary.' Thereafter, from the 1930s to 1940s, Herbert established himself as a romantic hero and was mostly cast as a loving husband.
After an acclaimed performance in the 1932 film 'Blonde Venus,’ Herbert acted in a series of romantic melodramas, such as 'The Dark Angel' (1935), 'Angel' (1937), and 'Always Goodbye' (1938). He also showcased his comic skills in many movies, such as 'Trouble in Paradise' (1932), 'The Good Fairy' (1935), and 'Breakfast for Two' (1937), and the 1938 musical 'Mad about Music.'
Known for his performances in the adaptations of works by the British author W Somerset Maugham, Herbert gained accolades for 'The Letter' (1940) and 'The Painted Veil' (1934). In 'The Moon and Sixpence' (1942) and 'The Razor's Edge' (1946), Herbert played Maugham. Meanwhile, he had already begun his stint as a radio artist and had made his radio debut in 1936. His radio credits include recurring performances in programs such 'The Screen Guild Theatre,' 'Lux Radio Theatre,' 'The Jell-O Program,' and 'The Burns and Allen Show.' In July 1940, Herbert created history when he appeared as the narrator of the first audition show of the radio drama 'Suspense,' titled 'The Lodger.'
Herbert was praised for his iconic recurring (1944 to 1952) appearance as ‘Ken Thurston’ in the radio drama 'The Man Called 'X’.' He is still remembered as the gentleman husband ‘Horace Giddens’ in the 1941 'Academy Award'-nominated drama film 'The Little Foxes.' In the same decade, Herbert mostly made supporting appearances, in films such as 'Foreign Correspondent' (1940), 'The Enchanted Cottage' (1945), 'Duel in the Sun' (1946), and 'The Secret Garden' (1949).
In early 1950, Herbert appeared in a number of TV projects, plays, and film adaptations, such as 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents,' 'The Philadelphia Story,' 'Now, Voyager,' and 'The Unexpected.' He entered the 1960s with the detective series '77 Sunset Strip.' The last significant film in Herbert’s career was the 1963 drama 'The Caretakers.' In 1960, he was honored with a “star” on the 'Hollywood Walk of Fame.'
Family, Personal Life & Death
Herbert married his co-star Mollie Maitland in 1915. Her real name was Hilda Lloyd Bosley. They divorced in 1928. He then married Edna Best, again a co-star, in November the same year. They had a daughter, Sarah.
Herbert began a serious affair with actor Gloria Swanson while still being married to Edna. They broke up in November 1936, after Herbert stated that he would not leave Edna for Gloria. He, however, divorced Edna in 1940 because of lack of time for each other.
Herbert married actor and model Elizabeth Roberta "Lee" Russell 20 days after his divorce from Edna. They had a daughter, Ann. They divorced in 1947. He remained married to his fourth wife, actor Patricia "Boots" Mallory, from 1947 until her death in 1958. Herbert last marriage was to Dee Anne Kahmann in 1960.
Herbert died of heart failure on January 22, 1966, in Beverly Hills, California. He was cremated at the 'Chapel of the Pines Crematory' in Los Angeles.
The actor loved sketching and fishing in his free time.