Lili Damita

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Lili Damita
Lili Damita from Stars of the Photoplay.jpg
Born Liliane Marie Madeleine Carré
(1904-07-10)July 10, 1904
Blaye, Gironde, Aquitaine, France
Died March 21, 1994(1994-03-21) (aged 89)
Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Other names Lily Damita, Lily Deslys
Years active 1922–1937
Spouse(s) Errol Flynn (1935–1942)
Allen Loomis (1962–1983)
Children Sean Flynn (May 31, 1941; disappeared April 6, 1970)

Lili Damita (July 10, 1904 – March 21, 1994) was a French actress who appeared in 33 movies between 1922 and 1937.

Early life and education[edit]

Born Liliane Marie-Madeleine Carré in Blaye, France, she was educated in convents and ballet schools in several European countries, including France, Spain and Portugal. At 14, she was enrolled as a dancer at the Opera de Paris.

By the age of 16, she was performing in popular music halls, eventually appearing in the Revue at the Casino de Paris.[1] She also worked as a photographic model. Offered a role in film as a prize for winning a magazine beauty competition in 1921, she appeared in several silent films before being offered her first leading role in Das Spielzeug von Paris (1925) by Hungarian-born director Michael Curtiz. She was an instant success, and Curtiz directed her in two more films: Fiaker Nr 13 (1926) and Der Goldene Schmetterling (1926). Damita continued appearing in German productions directed by Robert Wiene (Die Grosse Abenteuerin; 1927), G.W. Pabst (Man Spielt nicht mit der Liebe; 1926), and British director Graham Cutts (The Queen Was in the Parlour; 1927).

Career[edit]

In 1928, at the invitation of Samuel Goldwyn she went to Hollywood, making her American debut in a film titled The Rescue. Leased out to various studios, she appeared with stars such as Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, and James Cagney. Her films included the box office successes The Cock-Eyed World (1929),[2] the semi-silent The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1929), and This Is the Night (1932).

Personal life[edit]

Lili Damita and husband Errol Flynn at Los Angeles airport, 1941

In 1935, she married her first husband, a virtual unknown who would become Hollywood's biggest box office attraction, Errol Flynn, with whom she had a son, Sean Flynn (born 1941). Following the marriage, she retired from the screen. The couple divorced in 1942. (Barbara Hershey portrayed her in the TV film My Wicked, Wicked Ways [1985] based on Errol Flynn's autobiography.)

While living in Palm Beach, Florida, Damita married Allen Loomis, a retired Fort Dodge, Iowa dairy owner, and spent part of each year living there.[3]

During the Cambodian Civil War (Khmer Rouge Reign), her son Sean Flynn was working as a freelance photo journalist under contract to Time magazine when he and fellow journalist Dana Stone went missing on the road south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 6, 1970. Although Damita spent an enormous amount of money searching for her son, he was never found, and in 1984 he was declared legally dead. DNA testing was conducted on remains found in Cambodia and turned over to the U.S. embassy in March 2010.[4] However, the results, released June 30, 2010 by JPAC, showed the remains were not those of Sean Flynn.[5]

Death[edit]

Lili Damita died of Alzheimer's disease on March 21, 1994, in Palm Beach, Florida, aged 89. She was interred in the Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge, Iowa, her third husband's hometown.[3]

Selected filmography[edit]

Promotional photo of Lili Damita and Victor McLaglen for The Cock-Eyed World
Lili Damita & Gary Cooper in Fighting Caravans.
Year Film Role Notes
1922 Maman Pierre Silent film
1922 La belle au bois dormant Silent film
1922 L'Empereur des pauvres Riquette
1922 La fille sauvage Henriette Villedieu Silent film
1922 The Clairvoyant
1923 Corsica
1924 Une femme dans la nuit
1925 Prince Charming
1925 Das Spielzeug von Paris Célimène aka Susana Armard
1926 Cab No. 13
(Fiaker Nr. 13)
Lilian
1926 Secrets of a Soul
(Geheimnisse einer Seele)
Uncredited
1926 The Golden Butterfly
(Der goldene Schmetterling)
Lilian
1926 One Does Not Play with Love
(Man spielt nicht mit der Liebe)
Calixta
1927 The Queen Was in the Parlour Prinzessin Nadya von Kraya
1927 The Famous Woman
(Die berühmte Frau)
Sonja Litowskaja
1928 The Great Adventuress
1928 Scandal in Paris
1929 The Rescue Lady Edith Travers
1929 The Bridge of San Luis Rey Camila (La Perichole)
1929 The Cock-Eyed World Mariana Elenita
1930 Let Us Be Gay
(Soyons gais)
Kitty
1931 The Bachelor Father
(Le père célibataire)
alternate language version
1931 Fighting Caravans Felice
1931 The Woman Between Julie Whitcomb
1931 Friends and Lovers Mrs. Alva Sangrito
1931 The Easiest Way
(Quand on est belle)
Laura Murdock
1932 This Is the Night Germaine
1932 One Hour With You
(Une heure près de toi)
Mitzi Olivier
1932 The Match King Marta Molnar
1933 Goldie Gets Along Goldie LaFarge
1934 Man Stolen Annette
1935 Brewster's Millions Rosalie La Rue
1935 Frisco Kid Belle Morra
1936 The Devil on Horseback Diane Corday
1937 Escadrille of Chance Edwige

Selected stage musicals[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brennan, Sandra. "Lili Damita". Allmovie. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  2. ^ Erickson, Hal. "The Cock-Eyed World". Allmovie. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  3. ^ a b Tronchoni, José L Bernabé (Nov 27, 2002). "Lily Damita". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  4. ^ Kennedy, Helen (March 29, 2010). "Remains of Errol Flynn's son, photographer Sean Flynn, may have been found in Cambodia mass grave". Daily News (New York). 
  5. ^ Sean Flynn not buried in Cambodia war grave, The Daily Telegraph. June 30, 2010.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bermingham, Cedric Osmond (1931). Stars of the screen 1931: A volume of biographies of contemporary actors and actresses engaged in photoplay throughout the world. London: Herbert Joseph. 
  • "Lily Damita". Stars of the Photoplay. Chicago: Photoplay magazine. 1930. 

External links[edit]