Billie Dove

Active - 1921 - 1996  |   Born - May 14, 1903   |   Died - Dec 31, 1997   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Comedy, Adventure, Western

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Before she passed away in 1997, former actress and dancer Billie Dove believed that she was one of the last surviving Ziegfeld girls. During her heyday in the late '20s, Dove was certainly considered Florenz Ziegfeld's most beautiful girl. At her apex as a star of stage and screen, Dove was hailed the "American Beauty." In 1927, the moniker became the title of one of her many films. The dark-eyed, wavy-haired lovely was born Lillian Bohny in New York City. Dove entered show business at age 15 after spending a year as an artist's model. Her next job was in Ziegfeld's chorus line. The great producer recognized her potential and so began paying her special attention on-stage, providing her with the most elaborate gowns and posing her separately whenever possible. Though only 16, Dove was no dummy and demanded that since she was "special," she certainly deserved a higher paycheck. Few women would have had the pluck to confront the formidable Ziegfeld and he was impressed enough to give her a generous 50 dollars per week (a small fortune back then). She made her film debut in Get Rich Quick Wallingford (1921). Audiences responded well, and she would appear in 43 movies over the next decade. Highlights include her portrayal of the distressed princess Isobel in Douglas Fairbank's "comeback" film The Black Pirate (1927). Dove left movies in 1932 to marry cattle baron Robert Kenaston. In the late '20s, her love life was a hot topic in the scandal sheets for according to Dove's daughter Gail Adelson, Howard Hughes paid Dove's first husband, actor/director Irvin Willat , 35,000 dollars to divorce her. Dove and Hughes then allegedly embarked upon a four-year relationship. It is unfortunate that most of Dove's films were destroyed in a studio fire. Dove briefly returned to Hollywood in 1962 to play a role in Diamond Head.

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