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Saturday, 11th October 2008

Billie Dove.

Godfrey Phillips: BDV Sports issues
Film Stars, #22

Empreza, Industrial de Tabacos.
Cinema Stars & Popular Dogs
Card No. 27, Billie Dove.
Yes, it took as long to track down this card as you can imagine.

Wills Cinema Stars (series 3) [1931] Billie Dove
Card Text: Billie Dove was born in N.York, May 14 1903 and educated there. Amatuer theatricals and a love of dancing led her to try the stage, and she became Ziegfeld Follies girl. Then she was offered a small screen part. Her friends persuaded her to take it, and she proved so successful that in a few years she had worked her way to fame, playing the leading lady oppposite Douglas Fairbanks in his colour film, 'The Black Pirate' Other films include 'Wanderer of the Wasteland' part of which was also made in colour/. 'The Tender Hour' and 'The Stolen Bride'. She has brown hair and eyes and is 5ft 5inches tall (First National Star)

Billie Dove died Jan 1998 at the age of 96. As one of the last stars of the silent era we are getting to the end of that particular chapter in history.

She rose to fame in the 1920's known as The American Beauty she had the classic wide-eyed look and perfect complexion.

By the end of the 1920's she was voted with Clara Bow as America's most popular actress. By this time the LA Post Office had to put on extra staff for the fan mail she was receiving which reached 35,000 letters a month. Just imagine what it would have been like with e-mail.

Born March 26 1901 she was named, Lillian Boheny, the daughter of Swiss immigrants.

As an artists model her looks warranted the nickname, the Dove, which she adopted as her professional name.

In 1917-18 she stared in The Follies but always considered it a stepping stone to the movies.

This was to happen in 1921 with a supporting role in Get-rich-quick-Wallingford.

In 1923 she was appearing next to Lon Chaney in All the Brothers were Valiant whose director, Irvin Willat was to be her first husband. A pretty good career move she played leads for her husband in three more Paramount films, The Wanderer of the Wasteland [1924] The Air Mail [1925] which starred Douglas Fairbanks Jr and The Ancient Highway [1925].

This was the age of the western and the Mojave desert was the usual backdrop for such films. She played along side Tom Mix and Jack Holt amongst others at this stage of her career.

.She had a sense of vulnerability which made her ideal 'rescue' fodder from the clutches of evil men. John Gilbert was one of these men (who took over the mantle of the Great Lover from Valentino) and he tried to persuade her to marry him

So photogenic in the colour format Douglas Fairbanks Snr cast her as the leading lady in The Black Pirate . This made her an overnight star all over again. This was a busy year and it saw her starring in Kid Boots with Eddie Cantor and Clara Bow and in The Marriage Clause.

Signing for First National Studios in 1927 he work load did not ease and this caused pressures within her marriage which eventually collapsed that year. It was this year that she met a young Howard Hughes who was working on Hells Angels. (see Speed)

Naturally (for Hughes) he became obsessed. The problem was Billie was still married. Hughes was not going to let this stop him so he paid $325,000 to Willat in exchange for the divorce. Then he bought her contract from First National and signed her to his label, Caddo Pictures. The Age of Love [1931] and Cock of the Air [1932] were failures.

Unhappy with being bought she terminated her contract and married a young oil millionaire, Robert Kenaston. Later she was to admit Hughes was the only man she really ever loved

She was to separate from Robert in 1971. In 1975 she married briefly but it only lasted three months.

She was not reclusive like so many and in 1985 attended a charity gala in New York with Lillian Gish, Laura La Plante and Leatrice Joy.

Tom Mix, John Gilbert, Ivor Novello & Lillian Gish can all be found inWills, Cinema Stars 1st series.[1928]

Laura La Plante, Wills, Cinema Stars (Green backs) adopted title. [1926]

Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Gallaher, Film Partners

Jack Holt, ATC, Bridge Favors and Place Mats

Lon Chaney, G.Phillips, Cinema Stars (circular) [1924] #4