Leal Douglas

Last updated

Leal Douglas
Leal Douglas 1920.jpg
Douglas, 1920
Lilly Elizabeth Annie Lamb

(1881-03-25)25 March 1881
Died3 February 1970(1970-02-03) (aged 88)
London, UK
Occupation Actress

Leal Douglas (born Lilly Elizabeth Annie Lamb; 25 March 1881 – 3 February 1970) was a British-Australian actress, mainly of the silent film era.


Of Scottish and English parents, Douglas emigrated to Australia as a child and began her stage career there. She took her own company to South Africa, then returned to England for her main film career, during which she had some leading roles. In 1927, she went back to Australia, where she resumed her stage career, and then in the 1940s again returned to England.


Douglas was born in March 1881, the daughter of Mary Ann Emily and Richard Douglas Lamb, a musician originally from Scotland, the son of another Richard Lamb, also a musician. Her mother was from the village of Chalford in Gloucestershire, and her parents had been married in Salford in May 1880. [1] In December 1881, their daughter was christened Lilly Elizabeth Annie at St Thomas's Church, Pendleton, in Eccles. [2]

Douglas's family emigrated to Australia, where she spent most of her childhood, and on leaving school she became a stage actress. [3] She adopted the stage name Leal Douglas and made her debut under the management of J. C. Williamson, one of her earliest appearances being as Barbara Hare in a George Marlow 1909 stage production of East Lynne . [4] Other work was with Annette Kellerman [3] and Julius Knight. [5] In 1905, she and her parents were living in Oxley, Queensland, a suburb of Brisbane. [6] On 11 October 1906, Douglas's parents announced her engagement to Frederick William Chapman, of Murphy's Creek, Churchill, Queensland, [7] and on 24 October they were married. [8] [9] Her husband died in 1923 at the age of 47.

In December 1912, Douglas was touring with Aubrey Mallalieu in a piece called "Feed the Brute". [10] After a long tour of Australia and New Zealand, she and Mallalieu formed a company of their own and took it to South Africa. [11] While there, she saw that her friend Annette Kellerman was starring in a film, and wondered if one day they might appear together. [3] In May 1913, Douglas and Mallalieu travelled together on the SS Ballarat to England, [11] which in Douglas's view had at that time "world mastery of the film industry". On arrival in London, Douglas got an introduction to Florence Turner's manager and was given her first part in a film, The Rose of Surrey (1913). [3] Her other early film work included Sixty Years a Queen (1913) [5] and The Lure of London (1914). [12]

In 1917, Douglas starred as Milady de Winter in a little-known film version of The Three Musketeers . [13] [3]

Douglas with Derwent Hall Caine
in Darby and Joan (1920) Darby and Joan (1920) -3.png
Douglas with Derwent Hall Caine
in Darby and Joan (1920)

Another of Douglas's starring roles was in The Beetle (1919), based on the novel by Richard Marsh, in which she played an Egyptian princess who can transform herself into a man or a beetle and uses her powers to wreak revenge. [14] A review commented "There are few vampires in the English screen world, and perhaps of these Miss Leal Douglas is the most beautiful." [15] Jonathan Rigby has called Douglas's part in the film "the polymorphous title role". [14]

In 1920, Picture Show reported that Douglas's eyes were dark brown and her height was 5 ft 7 in (170 cm), that she was an expert swimmer, was keen on riding, rowing, and golf, and had "brought the fashion for painted gloves into this country". [3]

After appearing in British films for fourteen years, latterly as a character actress, in November 1927 Douglas returned to Brisbane by the Orient Line's RMS Ormonde, wishing to visit her family. She commented to the press that America had gained supremacy in films thanks to the war, and that England was now bidding to get it back, although hampered by "the insufficiency of studios", which were hired out for only three weeks. She had recently featured in a film made in Nice and Corsica and was an admirer of the German film Metropolis (1927). [5]

In Australia, Douglas returned to working on stage, and appeared in several productions between 1928 and 1944. [16] She also had parts in the Australian films The Cheaters (made 1929, released 1930), [17] The Hayseeds (1933), [18] The Silence of Dean Maitland (1934), [19] and Harvest Gold (1945). [20]

In 1932, Douglas was living in East Sydney, New South Wales, in 1937 in Wentworth, and in 1943 was in East Sydney again. [21] Her father died in 1933, [22] and her mother in 1937, in Sydney. [23]

By 1949, Douglas was back in England and working on stage in a production of J. B. Priestley’s The Linden Tree . [24] She remained in Britain and had minor parts in films there in the early 1950s. [25] [26] She died in February 1970, aged 88, while living in Warwick Avenue, Little Venice, Maida Vale, London, and left an estate valued at £1,393, (£21,700 as of 2021). [27]



  1. Marriages solemnized at the Parish Church of Christ Church, Salford, p. 134, at ancestry.co.uk, accessed 14 April 2020: "Richard Douglas Lamb, 32 years, Bachelor, Musician / Mary Ann Emily Whiting, 25 years, Spinster, of Chalford, County of Gloucester... father William Whiting, Ship Carpenter" (subscription required)
  2. 1881 United Kingdom census on 3 April 1881 for 33, Rosa Street, Pendleton, Salford, at ancestry.co.uk, accessed 14 April 2020: Richard and Emily Lamb have a nine-day old infant without a name. Richard’s birth place is stated as Scotland, Emily’s as Chalford, Glos. He is now a police constable; Baptisms solemnized in the Parish of Eccles church of St Thomas Pendleton in the Year of our Lord 1881, p. 74 at ancestry.co.uk, accessed 14 April 2020 (subscription required)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Leal Douglas, the Vampire of the British Screen" in Picture Show , 25 December 1920, at archive.org, accessed 15 April 2020
  4. "PALACE—"EAST LYNNE."". Referee . New South Wales, Australia. 3 November 1909. p. 16. Retrieved 15 May 2020 via Trove.
  5. 1 2 3 4 “Miss Leal Douglas, Australian film actress, returns”, The Brisbane Courier , 15 November 1927, p. 20
  6. "Lilly Elizabeth Anne Lamb Residence 1905 city Oxley Queensland Australia" and "Richard Douglas Lamb Residence 1905 Oxley Oxley Queensland Australia" in Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 / 1930S at ancestry.com.au, accessed 14 April 2020 (subscription required)
  7. Queensland Figaro, 11 October 1906, p. 20: "Engagements: Miss Lilly Lamb, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. D. Lamb, Wolston, to Mr. F. W. Chapman, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Chapman, Murphy's Creek. Wedding 24th October, at All Saints', Wickham Terrace."
  8. Queensland Figaro, 24 October 1906, p. 17: "Marriages: 24th Oct. Miss Lily Elizabeth Annie Lamb, of Wolston, to Mr. Frederick William Chapman, of Murphy's Creek, Churchill, Queensland."
  9. Frederick William Chapman at bdm.qld.gov.au, accessed 16 April 2020
  10. Public Notices in Townsville Daily Bulletin, 11 December 1912, p. 1; "Direct from Harry Rickards's Theatres. AUBREY MALLALIEU and LEAL DOUGLAS. In their latest Success Entitled. FEED THE BRUTE."
  11. 1 2 "Variety Gossip" in The Era (London, England), 24 May 1913, p. 1: "Mr. Aubrey Mallalieu, after an absence five years, is returning to England on the Ballarat, due to arrive to-day.... appeared with his own company in the leading variety theatres in South Africa, supported by the clever Australian actress, Miss Leal Douglas, who accompanies Mr. Mallalieu to England, and will resume work after a much needed rest."
  12. 1 2 Denis Gifford, The British Film Catalogue: The Fiction Film (2018), p: 123
  13. 1 2 "Twice Nightly Dumas’s famous Masterpiece the Three Musketeers, strong London Cut, including— Miss LEAL DOUGLAS as Milady, and HERBERT LEONARD D'Artagnan" in Northern Whig (Antrim, Northern Ireland), 5 February 1918, p. 4
  14. 1 2 3 Jonathan Rigby, English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema (Reynolds & Hearn, 2004), p. 16
  15. "An English Vampire" in Shields Daily News (Northumberland, England), 20 August 1920, p. 4
  16. "Leal Douglas". AusStage . Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  17. 1 2 Andrew Pike, Ross Cooper, Australian film, 1900–1977: a guide to feature film production (Australian Film Institute, 1980), p. 201
  18. 1 2 The Hayseeds at aso.gov.au, accessed 15 April 2020
  19. 1 2 Graham Shirley, Brian Adams, Australian Cinema, the First Eighty Years (Angus & Robertson, 1983), p. 145
  20. 1 2 Pike, Cooper (1980), p. 259
  21. "Lilly Elizabeth A Chapman Residence 1932 city East Sydney New South Wales Australia" in Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 / 1930S at ancestry.com.au, accessed 14 April 2020 (subscription required)
  22. Richard Douglas Lamb, no. 1933/295 ID 743671, in "Queensland Australia Will Index 1901—1940, Southern District" at ancestry.com.au, accessed 16 April 2020 (subscription required)
  23. "Family Notices" in The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Tue 23 November 1937, p. 9: "LAMB - The Friends of LEAL DOUGLAS are kindly invited to attend a Service in the Chapel of Rookwood Crematorium, for her dearly beloved MOTHER, Mary Ann Emily Lamb; to be held THIS DAY (Tuesday) at 10 a.m."
  24. "KING'S THEATRE, SOUTHSEA" in Bognor Regis Observer (Sussex, England), 10 December 1949, p. 2
  25. 1 2 Little Big Shot (1952) at bfi.org.uk, accessed 15 April 2020
  26. 1 2 Johnny on the Run at bfi.org.uk, accessed 15 April 2020
  27. "CHAPMAN Lilly Elizabeth A 25Mr1881" in Index to Register of Deaths for Paddington RD, vol. 5d (1970), p. 1,430; "CHAPMAN Lilly Elizabeth Annie of 54 Warwick Av Paddington London died 3 February 1970" in Probate Index for 1970 at probatesearch.service.gov.uk, accessed 14 April 2020
  28. The Rose of Surrey at bfi.org.uk, accessed 15 April 2020
  29. Rachael Low, Roger Manvell, The History of the British Film: 1914-1918 (1948), p. 286
  30. Thelma at bfi.org.uk, accessed 15 April 2020
  31. Deception at bfi.org.uk, accessed 15 April 2020
  32. Gifford (2018), p. 1267
  33. Low, Manvell (1948), p. 292
  34. The Lamp of Destiny at bfi.org.uk, accessed 15 April 2020
  35. Darby and Joan at bfi.org.uk, accessed 15 April 2020
  36. Dennis Gifford, British Film Catalogue: Two Volume Set, vol. 1 (Routledge, 2016), p. 273
  37. The Uninvited Guest at bfi.org.uk, accessed 15 April 2020
  38. Gifford (2016), p. 306
  39. The Gold Cure at bfi.org.uk, accessed 15 April 2020
  40. London Love at bfi.org.uk, accessed 15 April 2020

Related Research Articles

<i>The Silence of the Lambs</i> (film) 1991 film directed by Jonathan Demme

The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American psychological horror film directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Ted Tally, adapted from Thomas Harris' 1988 novel. It stars Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, a young FBI trainee who is hunting a serial killer, "Buffalo Bill", who skins his female victims. To catch him, she seeks the advice of the imprisoned Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer. Scott Glenn and Anthony Heald also feature. The film was the second adaptation of a Harris novel, after Manhunter (1986).

Susannah York English film, stage and television actress

Susannah Yolande Fletcher, known professionally as Susannah York, was an English actress. Her appearances in various films of the 1960s, including Tom Jones (1963) and They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969), formed the basis of her international reputation. An obituary in The Telegraph characterised her as "the blue-eyed English rose with the china-white skin and cupid lips who epitomised the sensuality of the swinging sixties", who later "proved that she was a real actor of extraordinary emotional range".

Honor Blackman English actress

Honor Blackman was an English actress, widely known for the roles of Cathy Gale in The Avengers (1962–1964), Bond girl Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964), Julia Daggett in Shalako (1968) and Hera in Jason and the Argonauts (1963). She is also known for her role as Laura West in the ITV sitcom The Upper Hand (1990–1996).

Yvonne Mitchell

Yvonne Mitchell was an English stage, television and film actress. After beginning her acting career in theatre, Mitchell progressed to films in the late 1940s. Her roles include Julia in the 1954 BBC adaptation of George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. She retired from acting in 1977.

Mary Cowden Clarke

Mary Victoria Cowden Clarke was an English author, and compiler of a concordance to Shakespeare.

Mona Washbourne English stage, film and television actress

Mona Lee Washbourne was an English actress of stage, film, and television. Her most critically acclaimed role was in the film Stevie (1978), late in her career, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA Award.

Rosa Campbell Praed

Rosa Campbell Praed, often credited as Mrs. Campbell Praed, was an Australian novelist in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Her large bibliography covered multiple genres, and books for children as well as adults. She has been described as the first Australian novelist to achieve a significant international reputation.

<i>Woman in a Dressing Gown</i>

Woman in a Dressing Gown is a 1957 British drama film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Yvonne Mitchell, Anthony Quayle, Sylvia Syms, and Carole Lesley. The film won four awards at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival including "Best Foreign Film". Mitchell won the Silver Bear for Best Actress. The film also won the 1958 Golden Globe Award for Best English-Language Foreign Film.

<i>The Last Page</i>

The Last Page, released in the United States as Man Bait, is a 1952 British film noir produced by Hammer Film Productions starring George Brent, Marguerite Chapman and Diana Dors.

<i>Well Meet Again</i> (1943 film)

We'll Meet Again is a 1943 British musical film directed by Philip Brandon and starring Vera Lynn. The plot is loosely based on the life of its star, otherwise known as Britain's "Forces' Sweetheart".

<i>Once a Sinner</i> 1950 film

Once a Sinner is a 1950 British drama film directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring Pat Kirkwood, Jack Watling and Joy Shelton.

Helen Barry

Helen Barry, born Elizabeth Short, was an English actress. She began her acting career at age 32 after her first marriage dissolved.

Mavis Villiers Australian actress

Mavis Villiers was an Australian-born British actress of stage, film and television. Her parents were John Cooney and Clara Smythe. Her brother, Cecil Cooney, was a camera operator and cinematographer. Her stage name, Villiers, was taken from her maternal grandfather.

<i>While the Sun Shines</i>

While the Sun Shines is a 1947 British comedy film directed by Anthony Asquith and starring Barbara White, Ronald Squire, Brenda Bruce, Bonar Colleano, and Michael Allan. It was based on Terence Rattigan's 1943 play of the same name.

<i>Trottie True</i>

Trottie True is a 1949 British musical comedy film directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and starring Jean Kent, James Donald and Hugh Sinclair. It was known as The Gay Lady in the US, and is a rare British Technicolour film of the period. According to the BFI Screenonline: "British 1940s Technicolor films offer an abundance of visual pleasures, especially when lovingly restored by the National Film Archive. Trottie True is not among the best known, but comes beautifully packaged, gift wrapped with all the trimmings."

<i>A Town Like Alice</i> (film)

A Town Like Alice is a 1956 British drama film produced by Joseph Janni and starring Virginia McKenna and Peter Finch that is based on the 1950 novel by Nevil Shute. The film does not follow the whole novel, concluding at the end of Part Two and truncating or omitting much detail. It was partially filmed in Malaya and Australia.

Warwick Avenue, London

Warwick Avenue is a residential avenue in the Little Venice area of Maida Vale, London. Its southern end is situated adjacent to Paddington Basin, to the north of Paddington station.

Connie Ediss

Connie Ediss was an English actress best known as a buxom, good-humoured comedian in many of the popular Edwardian musical comedies around the turn of the 20th century.

Barbara Yu Ling

Barbara Lee, who used the stage name Barbara Yu Ling, was a Singapore-born actress of stage, screen, and television who was based in Britain from the 1950s. One of the first Singaporean Chinese actresses to gain attention in Europe, she appeared in productions of Madame Butterfly and The World of Suzie Wong. Among the films she appeared in were The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), Ping Pong (1986), and Peggy Su! (1997).

Eileen Sharp

Eileen Nora Sharp was an English singer and actress probably best known as the principal mezzo-soprano with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company from 1923 to 1925. For a few years after that, she continued to act in the West End and on tour, but she left the stage after marrying in 1928, making some radio and television appearances in the 1930s.