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Billie Dove

Billie Dove in football garb on the cover of "The Flapper" magazine in 1922
Born Lillian Bohny
May 14, 1903(1903-05-14)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died December 31, 1997 (aged 94)
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
Other name(s) Lillian Bohny
Occupation Actress
Years active 1918–1932; 1962
Spouse(s) Irvin Willat (1923–1929)
Robert Kenaston (1933–1970, 2 children)
John Miller (1973–?)
Domestic partner(s) Howard Hughes (early 1930s)

Billie Dove (May 14, 1903[1][2] – December 31, 1997) was an American actress.


Early life and career

She was born as Bertha Bohny in New York City to Charles and Bertha Bohny who were Swiss immigrants. As a teen, she worked as a model to help support her family and was hired at the age of 15 by Florenz Ziegfeld to appear in his Ziegfeld Follies Revue. She legally changed her name to Lillian Bohny in the early 1920s. and migrated 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 shared 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.[3]

Early retirement

Following her last film, Blondie of the Follies (1932), Dove retired from the screen to be with her family, although she was at the time still popular. She next married oil executive Robert Kenaston in 1933, a marriage that lasted for 37 years until Kenaston's death in 1973. They had two children — one son and one adopted daughter. She later had a brief third marriage to architect John Miller, which ended in divorce.

Last years/death

Aside from a brief cameo in Diamond Head (1962), 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 has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6351 Hollywood Blvd.


  1. ^ Drew, William M. "Billie Dove - Silent Star of May 1997." The Lady in the Main Title: On the Twenties and Thirties. Vestal Press. 1997.
  2. ^ Wagner, Bruce. "Annals of Hollywood". "Moving Pictures", The New Yorker. July 20, 1998, p. 54
  3. ^ Obituary, New York Times, January 6, 1998.

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