Billie Dove

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Billie Dove
Billie Dove The Blue Book of the Screen.jpg
Publicity photo of Dove from The Blue Book of the Screen (1923)
Bertha Bohny

(1903-05-14)May 14, 1903
DiedDecember 31, 1997(1997-12-31) (aged 94)
Other namesLillian Bohny
Years active1921–1932 (brief reappearance in 1962)
Spouse(s) Irvin Willat
Robert Kenaston
(m.1933–1970; his death)
John Miller

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


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 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). [4]

Other interests

Dove was also a pilot, poet, and painter. [5]

Early retirement

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 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 and died in 1995 from cancer, and an adopted daughter, Gail who briefly married media mogul Merv Adelson. [6] Billie Dove later had a brief third marriage to architect John Miller, which ended in divorce in the 1970s.

Last years/death

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. [7]

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. [8]


1921 Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford Dorothy WellsLost film
At the Stage Door Mary MathewsLost film
1922 Polly of the Follies Alysia PotterLost film
Beyond the Rainbow Marion Taylor
Youth to Youth Eve AllisonLost film
One Week of LoveBathing Party GuestUncredited
1923 All the Brothers Were Valiant Priscilla HoltIncomplete
Madness of Youth Nanette BenningLost film
Soft Boiled The Girl
The Lone Star Ranger Helen LongstrethLost film
The Thrill Chaser Olala UssanIncomplete
1924 On Time Helen HendonLost film
Try and Get It Rhoda PerrinLost film
Yankee Madness DoloresLost film
Wanderer of the Wasteland Ruth VireyLost film
The Roughneck Felicity ArdenLost film
The Folly of Vanity Alice
1925 The Air Mail Alice Rendon
The Light of Western Stars Madeleine HammondLost film
Wild Horse Mesa Sue Melberne
The Lucky Horseshoe Eleanor Hunt
The Fighting Heart Doris AndersonLost film
The Ancient Highway Antoinette St. IvesLost film
1926 The Black Pirate Princess Isobel
The Lone Wolf Returns Marcia Mayfair
The Marriage Clause Sylvia JordanIncomplete
Kid Boots Eleanore Belmore
1927 An Affair of the Follies TamaraLost film
Sensation Seekers Luena "Egypt" Hagen
The Tender Hour Marcia Kane
The Stolen Bride Sari
The American Beauty Millicent HowardLost film
The Love Mart Antoinette FrobelleLost film
1928 The Heart of a Follies Girl Teddy O'DayLost film
Yellow Lily Judith Peredy
Night Watch Yvonne Corlaix
Adoration Elena
1929 Careers Hélène Gromaire
The Man and the Moment Joan Winslow
Her Private Life Lady Helen Haden
The Painted Angel Mammie HudlerLost film; Vitaphone track survives
1930 The Other Tomorrow Edith LarrisonLost 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 HurtLost film
1932 Cock of the Air Lili de Rosseau
Blondie of the Follies Lottie
1962 Diamond Head HerselfCameo role

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Wagner, Bruce. "Moving Pictures", Annals of Hollywood, The New Yorker. July 20, 1998, p. 54.
  4. Dietrich, Noah; Thomas, Bob (1972). Howard, The Amazing Mr. Hughes. Greenwich: Fawcett Publications, Inc. p. 89.
  5. 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.
  6. Los Angeles Times: "Gail Adelson; Hostess, Home Designer to the Stars" by Myrna Oliver February 22, 1999
  7. "Billie Dove (1903–1997)", Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  8. Kliment, Bud. Billie Holiday . Holloway House Publishing, 1990, p. 29. ISBN   978-0-87067-561-4.