Born Gladys Lindeman in Brooklyn, New York, she was the daughter of a chorus girl who put her on stage at a very early age. By the time she reached her middle teens, she was already a veteran and taking on dramatic leading roles. She made her East Coast film debut in 1913 as Gladys Brockwell for Lubin Studios and within a short time was starring in a number of films. Developing her craft, Brockwell moved to Hollywood where she earned herself an important role in the acclaimed 1922 version of Oliver Twist and in The Hunchback of Notre Dame the following year.
Never one of the glamorous leading ladies, by the mid 1920s she was past the age of thirty and although still given top female billing, Brockwell performed mainly in supporting roles. Regarded as one of the finest character actresses of the day who not only adapted to the new talkies but excelled in them, her first appearance in a "talkie" came in 1928 in The Lights of New York. Her performance received strong reviews at the time of the film's release and as well by present-day critics of the preserved film.
A Warner Bros. feature length production, The Lights of New York was filmed with microphones strategically hidden around the sets, creating the first motion picture released with fully synchronic dialogue. Signed by Warner Bros. to a multi-year contract, Brockwell's next talkie was in another supporting role to Norma Talmadge in one of only three sound films Talmadge ever made.
On June 27, 1929 Gladys Brockwell and friend Thomas Brennan were involved in an automobile accident near Calabasas, California. Brockwell was crushed beneath the automobile driven by Brennan, an advertising man from Los Angeles, California. The auto went over a 75 foot embankment on the Ventura Highway near Calabasas.
Seriously injured, the thirty-five-year old Brockwell died a few days later in a Hollywood hospital. Her physician, Dr. Norman P. Sprague, said death was the result of peritonitis. Four blood transfusions were performed in an effort to save her life, the last just prior to her death. Brennan recovered after sustaining serious injuries. He said a bit of dust had blown into his eye, temporarily blinding him.
|1913||The Rattlesnake||The Girl|
|When Mountain and Valley Meet||The Girl|
|The Worth of a Life||Ruby Baker|
|1915||A Man and His Mate||Betty|
|Providence and the Twins||Miss Abagail Dean|
|1916||The Crippled Hand||The Prima Donna|
|The Fires of Conscience||Margey Burke|
|1917||The Price of Her Soul||Ailene Graham|
|The Soul of Satan||Miriam Lee|
|1918||The Devil's Wheel||Blanche De Montfort|
|Kultur||Countess Griselda von Arenburg|
|1919||Pitfalls of a Big City||Molly Moore|
|1920||Flames of the Flesh||Candace|
|A Sister to Salome||Elinore Duane|
|1921||The Sage Hen||The Sage Hen|
|1922||Double Stakes||The Girl|
|Paid Back||Carol Gordon|
|Oliver Twist||The Girl|
|1923||Penrod and Sam||Mrs. Schofield|
|The Darling of New York||Light Fingered Kitty|
|The Hunchback of Notre Dame||Sister Gudule|
|1924||The Foolish Virgin||Nancy Owens|
|So Big||Maartje Poole|
|Stella Maris||Louisa Risca|
|1926||Her Sacrifice||Mary Cullen|
|1927||Long Pants||His Mother|
|The Country Doctor||Myra Jones|
|1928||My Home Town||Mae Andrews|
|The Home Towners||Lottie Bancroft|
|1929||The Hottentot||Mrs. Chadwick|
|The Argyle Case||Mrs. Martin|
- Albert Lea, Minnesota Evening Tribune, "Gladys Brockwell, Picture Actress, Dies of Injuries", Wednesday, July 3, 1929, Page 1.
- New York Times, "Gladys Brockwell Dies", July 3, 1929, Page 14.