Publicity photo of Dove from The Blue Book of the Screen (1923)
May 14, 1903
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||December 31, 1997
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
|Other names||Lillian Bohny|
|Years active||1918-1932 (brief reappearance in 1962)|
(m.1933-1970; his death); 2 children
Early life and career
Dove was born Bertha Bohny in 1903 to Charles and Bertha (née Kagl) Bohny, Swiss immigrants. 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 most 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 was dubbed The American Beauty (1927), the title of one of her films.
She married the director of her seventh film, Irvin Willat, in 1923. The two divorced in 1929. Dove had a huge legion of male fans, one of her most persistent being Howard Hughes. She had a three-year romance with Hughes and was engaged to marry him, but she ended the relationship without ever giving cause. 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).
She was also a pilot, poet, and painter.
Following her last film Blondie of the Follies (1932), Dove retired from the screen to be with her family. She next married wealthy oil executive Robert Alan Kenaston in 1933, a marriage that lasted for 37 years until his death in 1970. The couple had a son, Robert Alan Kenaston, Jr., who married actress Claire Kelly in 1961-1963 and died in 1995 from cancer, and an adopted daughter, Gail. She later had a brief third marriage to architect John Miller, which ended in divorce in the 1970s.
Aside from a brief cameo in Diamond Head (1963), Dove never returned to the movies. She spent her retirement years in Rancho Mirage before moving into the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California where she died of pneumonia in 1997, aged 94.
She is interred in the Freedom Mausoleum, at Forest Lawn Glendale.
- Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford (1921) - presumed lost
- At the Stage Door (1921) - presumed lost
- Polly of the Follies (1922) - presumed lost
- Beyond the Rainbow (1922) - extant
- Youth to Youth (1922) - presumed lost
- One Week of Love (1922) - extant;UCLA Film and TV
- All the Brothers Were Valiant (1923) - incomplete ; Filmmuseum Nederlands
- Madness of Youth (1923) - presumed lost
- Soft Boiled (1923) - extant; George Eastman House
- The Lone Star Ranger (1923) - presumed lost
- The Thrill Chaser (1923) - extant; UCLA Film and TV, four out of five reels
- On Time (1924) - presumed lost
- Try and Get It (1924) - presumed lost
- Yankee Madness (1924) - presumed lost
- Wanderer of the Wasteland (1924) - lost
- The Roughneck (1924) - presumed lost
- The Folly of Vanity (1924) - extant; Narodni Filmovy Archive
- The Air Mail (1925) - extant; but incomplete at Library of Congress, four reels exist out of eight
- The Light of Western Stars (1925) - lost
- Wild Horse Mesa (1925) - extant
- The Lucky Horseshoe (1925) - presumed lost
- The Fighting Heart (1925) - lost
- The Ancient Highway (1925) - lost
- The Black Pirate (1926) - extant
- The Lone Wolf Returns (1926) - extant; George Eastman House
- The Marriage Clause (1926) - extant; but incomplete Library of Congress
- Kid Boots (1926) - extant
- An Affair of the Follies (1927) - lost
- Sensation Seekers (1927) - extant; UCLA Film and TV
- The Tender Hour (1927) - extant nitrate print UCLA
- The Stolen Bride (1927)
- The American Beauty (1927) - lost
- The Love Mart (1927) - lost
- The Heart of a Follies Girl (1928) - presumed lost
- Yellow Lily (1928) - extant
- Night Watch (1928) - extant
- Adoration (1928) - extant
- Careers (1929) - lost
- The Man and the Moment (1929) - lost
- Her Private Life (1929) - lost
- The Painted Angel (1929) - lost; Vitaphone track survives
- The Other Tomorrow (1930) - lost
- A Notorious Affair (1930) - extant; Library of Congress
- Sweethearts and Wives (1930) - extant; Library of Congress
- One Night at Susie's (1930) - extant; Library of Congress
- The Lady Who Dared (1931) - extant; Library of Congress
- The Age for Love (1931) - lost
- Cock of the Air (1932) - extant
- Blondie of the Follies (1932) - extant
- Diamond Head (cameo role; 1962)
- 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.
- Drew, William M. Billie Dove profile, The Lady in the Main Title: On the Twenties and Thirties. Vestal Press, 1997.
- Wagner, Bruce. "Moving Pictures", Annals of Hollywood, The New Yorker. July 20, 1998, p. 54.
- Obituary, New York Times, January 6, 1998.
- "Billie Dove (1903–1997)", Goldensilents.com. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
- Kliment, Bud. Billie Holiday. Holloway House Publishing, 1990, p. 29. ISBN 978-0-87067-561-4.
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