Renee’s career started in silents, but was truly ignited with the talkies of the Pre Code era. Hers is not a big career, with no meaty and mostly uncredited roles, but she appeared in tons of good films with some very fine actors. Just as it all began with the Pre Code era, It was extinguished not long after the code kicked in July 1934, and she left Hollywood at a young age of 24.
Bertha Renee Whitney was born on February 9, 1912, in Chicago, Illinois, to Charles Whitney and Bertha Lehmann, their only child. Her mother was the daughter of German immigrants, born in Nebraska. The family made a series of movies through California during her early childhood, going from Santa Monica, to Venice, and ending up in Los Angeles in the mid 1920s. Her father worked as a manager there, and her mother was a housewife. Renee finished just the first year of high school in Los Angeles before she opted to become an thespian.
In 1930, the family lived with her maternal grandparents and two lodgers in Los Angeles, and Renee was already an established actress by then. That same year, she moved to a rented apartment on the crossing West 1st and Broadway Street in east Los Angeles. Her career had already started, but the best was yet to come.
As I already noted, Renee did not have an exemplary career by a long shot, but managed to appear in a large number of movies in a very short time period, faring much better than some starlets of her rank.
Renee hit the press in 1929, and some pretty flattering things were written about her. Originally featured in a pack with 7 other starlets on their way to stardom, at just 17, she did not reach the peak of her beauty – that happened two years later, in 1931, when she was singled out by the prestigious illustrator Henry Clive as the “perfect model”. When a guy who painted hundreds of stunning models says that, one stands up and listens.
The press mostly dealt with Renee’s professional life, never mentioning her dating habits, so little is known about that. It was noted she and Glenda Farrell, her frequent co-star, were great friends off screen, nursing each other when they were sick and so on. In 1935, Renee hit the papers again after losing 15 pounds as a result of an appendectomy, and it was noted she was the sweetheart of a mid western steel millionaire.
Renee married a Mr. Klein in about 1936. There is a good chance that Klein was the midwestern steel millionaire mentioned in the previous newspaper clips. If that is so, I assume she moved to his home state and ended her career for good.
They divorced prior to 1940, and she went on to live with her widowed mother, Bertha Lord, in Santa Monica. She was listed as unemployed, and not looking for a job, indicating that she was probably living off her alimony payments.
Renee married for the second time to a Mr. George. Unfortunately, I have no further information about this marriage.
Renee L. George died on September 16, 1972 in Los Angeles, California.