Billie Dove

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Billie Dove
Dove in 1920
Bertha Eugenie Bohny

(1903-05-14)May 14, 1903
New York City, U.S.
DiedDecember 31, 1997(1997-12-31) (aged 94)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California
Years active1921–1932, 1962
(m. 1923; div. 1929)
Robert Kenaston
(m. 1935; died 1970)
John Miller
(m. 1973, divorced)

Lillian Bohny (born Bertha Eugenie Bohny;[1] May 14, 1903[2] – December 31, 1997), known professionally as Billie Dove, was an American actress.[3][4]

Early life and career[edit]

Dove was born Bertha Eugenie Bohny in New York City in 1903 to Charles and Bertha (née Kagl) Bohny,[5] both immigrants from Switzerland. She had a younger brother, Charles Reinhardt Bohny (1906-1963).[6] As a teen, she worked as a model to help support her family and was hired as a teenager by Florenz Ziegfeld to appear in his Ziegfeld Follies Revue. She legally changed her name to Lillian Bohny in the early 1920s and moved to Hollywood, where she began appearing in silent films. She soon became one of the more popular actresses of the 1920s, appearing in Douglas Fairbanks' smash hit Technicolor film The Black Pirate (1926), as Rodeo West in The Painted Angel (1929), and The American Beauty (1927).

She married Irvin Willat, the director of her seventh film, in 1923. The two divorced in 1929. Dove had a legion of male fans, one of her more persistent was Howard Hughes. She had a three-year romance with Hughes and was engaged to marry him, but she ended the relationship.

Hughes cast her as a comedian in his film Cock of the Air (1932). She also appeared in his movie The Age for Love (1931).[7]

Dove was also a pilot, poet, and painter.[8]

Early retirement[edit]

Following her last film, Blondie of the Follies (1932), Dove retired from the screen to be with her family. She married wealthy oil executive Robert Alan Kenaston in 1935,[9] a marriage that lasted for 35 years until his death in 1970. The couple had a son, Robert Alan Kenaston, Jr., who married actress Claire Kelly and died in 1995 from cancer, and an adopted daughter, Gail who briefly married media mogul Merv Adelson.[10] Billie Dove later had a brief third marriage, in 1973, to architect John Miller, which ended in divorce.[11]

Last years[edit]

Aside from a cameo in Diamond Head (1963), Dove never returned to the movies. She spent her retirement years in Rancho Mirage, then moved to the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California where she died of pneumonia on New Year's Eve 1997, aged 94.[12]

She is interred in the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Glendale.


Dove has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6351 Hollywood Blvd. Jazz singer Billie Holiday took her professional pseudonym from Dove as an admirer of the actress.[13]


Year Title Role Note
1921 Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford Dorothy Wells Lost film
At the Stage Door Mary Mathews Lost film
1922 Polly of the Follies Alysia Potter Lost film
Trailer survives
Beyond the Rainbow Marion Taylor A copy is held at the UCLA Film and Television Archive
Youth to Youth Eve Allison Lost film
One Week of Love Bathing Party Guest Lost film
1923 All the Brothers Were Valiant Priscilla Holt Lost film
Madness of Youth Nanette Benning Lost film
Soft Boiled The Girl A copy is held at the George Eastman Museum
The Lone Star Ranger Helen Longstreth Lost film
The Thrill Chaser Olala Ussan Lost film
1924 On Time Helen Hendon Lost film
Try and Get It Rhoda Perrin A copy is held at the Library of Congress
Yankee Madness Dolores Lost film
Wanderer of the Wasteland Ruth Virey Lost film
filmed in Technicolor
The Roughneck Felicity Arden Lost film
The Folly of Vanity Alice A copy is held at the Czech Film Archive
1925 The Air Mail Alice Rendon An incomplete copy is held at the Library of Congress
The Light of Western Stars Madeleine Hammond Lost film
Wild Horse Mesa Sue Melberne
The Lucky Horseshoe Eleanor Hunt A copy is preserved at the Museum of Modern Art
The Fighting Heart Doris Anderson Lost film
The Ancient Highway Antoinette St. Ives Lost film
1926 The Black Pirate Princess Isobel Filmed in Technicolor
The Lone Wolf Returns Marcia Mayfair A copy is held at the George Eastman Museum
The Marriage Clause Sylvia Jordan An incomplete copy is held at the Library of Congress
Kid Boots Eleanore Belmore A copy is held at the Library of Congress
1927 An Affair of the Follies Tamara Lost film
Sensation Seekers Luena "Egypt" Hagen
The Tender Hour Marcia Kane
The Stolen Bride Sari
The American Beauty Millicent Howard Lost film
The Love Mart Antoinette Frobelle Lost film
1928 The Heart of a Follies Girl Teddy O'Day Lost film
Yellow Lily Judith Peredy A copy is held at the BFI National Archive
Night Watch Yvonne Corlaix A copy is held at the Cineteca Italiana
Adoration Elena A copy is held at the Czech Film Archive
1929 Careers Hélène Gromaire
The Man and the Moment Joan Winslow
Her Private Life Lady Helen Haden
The Painted Angel Mammie Hudler Lost film; Vitaphone track survives
1930 The Other Tomorrow Edith Larrison Lost film
A Notorious Affair Patricia Hanley
Sweethearts and Wives Femme de Chambre
One Night at Susie's Mary Martin
1931 The Lady Who Dared Margaret Townsend
The Age for Love Jean Hurt Lost film
1932 Cock of the Air Lili de Rosseau
Blondie of the Follies Lottie
1962 Diamond Head Herself Cameo role


  1. ^ "Join Ancestry®". Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  2. ^ Other sources including the California registry of births and deaths cite 1900 or 1901 as her year of birth, although the 1910 census supports 1903 as her year of birth, as does her entry in the New York City Birth Registry.
  3. ^ Drew, William M. Billie Dove profile Archived July 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, The Lady in the Main Title: On the Twenties and Thirties. Vestal Press, 1997.
  4. ^ Wagner, Bruce. "Moving Pictures", Annals of Hollywood, The New Yorker. July 20, 1998, p. 54.
  5. ^ "Billie Dove - Silent Star of May, 1997". Archived from the original on October 22, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2021.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 19, 2021. Retrieved May 19, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Dietrich, Noah; Thomas, Bob (1972). Howard, The Amazing Mr. Hughes. Greenwich: Fawcett Publications, Inc. p. 89.
  8. ^ Gussow, Mel (January 6, 1998). "Billie Dove, Damsel in Distress In Silent Films, Is Dead at 97". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 19, 2021. Retrieved May 19, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Los Angeles Times: "Gail Adelson; Hostess, Home Designer to the Stars" by Myrna Oliver February 22, 1999
  11. ^ "Obituary: Billie Dove". The Independent. January 14, 1998. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  12. ^ "Billie Dove (1903–1997)", Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  13. ^ Kliment, Bud. Billie Holiday. Holloway House Publishing, 1990, p. 29. ISBN 978-0-87067-561-4.

External links[edit]