Liz Renay

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Liz Renay
At the Miss Exotic World Pageant, 2006. Photo Michael Albov
Born Pearl Elizabeth Dobbins
April 14, 1926
Chandler, Arizona
Died January 22, 2007(2007-01-22) (aged 80)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Spouse(s) ? Romano (about 1941)
Paul W. McLain (1944–?)
George L. Oleyar (1950-?)
Thomas W. Freeman (1966–?)
Gerald E. Heidebrink (1976–1983)

Liz Renay, née Pearl Elizabeth Dobbins (April 14, 1926 – January 22, 2007) was an American author and actress who appeared in John Waters' film Desperate Living (1977).

Early life

She was born Pearl Elizabeth Dobbins on April 14, 1926 in Chandler, Arizona to William A. and Ada M. (Phillips) Dobbins (1904-1982), who were described as being "evangelical parents."

Renay was mobster Mickey Cohen's girlfriend. Renay was convicted of perjury in 1959 and served 27 months at Terminal Island.[1]


She was known more as a performer with ties to celebrities, usually actors, rather than as an actor herself. Nevertheless, she did play the lead role in John Waters' film Desperate Living and also appeared on an episode of Adam-12 as a burlesque dancer who calls the police about a peeping tom outside her home (Season 5, November 1972, show entitled "Harry Nobody"). On stage, she and her daughter, Brenda, toured with a striptease act. The act ended when her daughter Brenda committed suicide on her 39th birthday in 1982.

In a tell all book about her many relationships with men both famous and not so famous entitled My First 2,000 Men, she claimed flings with Joe DiMaggio, Regis Philbin, and Cary Grant, among many other male celebrities. Renay's other books include My Face for the World to See and Staying Young (Lyle Stuart, 1982). My Face for the World to See was reissued in 2002, headlined "A Cult Classic," with a foreword by John Waters. Waters integrated the title into the dialogue of his film Female Trouble (1974), prior to working on his film Desperate Living with Renay.

Renay died at age 80 on January 22, 2007, in her adopted hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada, from cardiac arrest and gastric bleeding.[2]

Personal life

Liz was married a total of seven times, being divorced five times and widowed twice. Her husbands were:

  • a Mr. Romano, whom she married when she was about fifteen years old. From this marriage, a daughter Brenda, an actress who went by the stage name Brenda Renay, was born.
  • Paul McLain, and from this marriage, one son, Johnny Allen McLain Sr. (August 22, 1945 - February 19, 2012) was born.
  • George L. Oleyar, whom she married on 21 September 1950, in Los Angeles County, California.[3]
  • Thomas W. Freeman, whom she married on May 23, 1966.
  • Gerald E. Heidebrink, whom she married on November 3, 1976. The marriage ended in divorce in 1983.


  1. Smith, John L. (April 26, 2006). Liz Renay's vice pales in comparison to today's sleaze. Las Vegas Review-Journal
  2. Hevesi, Dennis (January 29, 2007). Liz Renay, Cult Film Star and Stripper With Mob Connections, Dies at 80. The New York Times
  3. California, Marriage Index, 1949-1959, for George L. Oleyar and Pearl E. McLain

External links