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Lili Damita

Lili Damita in The Devil on Horseback (1936)
Born Liliane Marie Madeleine Carré
July 10, 1904(1904-07-10)
Blaye, Gironde, Aquitaine, France
Died March 21, 1994 (aged 89)
Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Other name(s) Lily Damita, Lily Deslys
Spouse(s) Michael Curtiz (1925–1926)
Errol Flynn (1935–1942)
Allen Loomis (1962–1983)

Lili Damita (July 10, 1904 – March 21, 1994) was a French actress who had appeared in 33 movies between 1922 and 1937.


Early life and education

Born Liliane Marie-Madeleine Carré in Blaye, France, she was educated in convents and ballet schools in several European countries, including France, Spain and Portugal. At 14, she was enrolled as a dancer at the Opera de Paris.

By the age of 16 she was performing in popular music halls, eventually appearing in the Revue at the Casino de Paris.[1] She also worked as a photographic model. Offered a role in film as a prize for winning a magazine beauty competition in 1921, she appeared in several silent films before being offered her first leading role in Das Spielzeug von Paris (1925) by Hungarian-born director Michael Curtiz, whom she married in 1925 (they divorced a year later). She was an instant success, and Curtiz directed her in two more films: Fiaker Nr 13 (1926) and Der Goldene Schmetterling (1926). In the latter film, her acting was exceptionally good. Damita continued appearing in German productions directed by Robert Wiene (Die Grosse Abenteuerin; 1927), G. W. Pabst (Man Spielt nicht mit der Liebe; 1926), and British director Graham Cutts (The Queen Was in the Parlour; 1927).


In 1928, at the invitation of Samuel Goldwyn she went to Hollywood, making her American debut in a film titled The Rescue. Leased out to various studios, she appeared with stars such as Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, and James Cagney. Her films included the boxoffice successes The Cock-Eyed World (1929),[2] the semi-silent The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1929), and This Is the Night (1932).

Personal life

Lili Damita and husband Errol Flynn at Los Angeles airport, 1941

In 1935 she married her second husband, a virtual unknown who would become Hollywood's biggest box office attraction, Errol Flynn, with whom she had a son, Sean Leslie Flynn (born 1941). Following the marriage, she retired from the screen. The couple divorced in 1942. (Barbara Hershey portrayed her in the TV film My Wicked, Wicked Ways (1985) based on Errol Flynn's biography.)

While living in Palm Beach, Florida, Damita married Allen Loomis, a retired Fort Dodge, Iowa dairy owner, and spent part of each year living there.[3]

During the Vietnam War, her son Sean Flynn was working as a freelance photo journalist under contract to Time magazine when he and fellow journalist Dana Stone went missing on the road south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on April 6, 1970. Although Damita spent an enormous amount of money searching for her son, he was never found, and in 1984 Sean Leslie Flynn was declared legally dead.


Lili Damita died of Alzheimer's disease in Palm Beach, Florida, aged 89, and was interred in the Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge, Iowa, her third husband's hometown.[3]

Selected filmography

Selected stage musicals

  • On Dit Ça, Paris (1923)
  • Sons o'Guns, New York (1929/30)
  • Here's How, London (1934)


  1. ^ Brennan, Sandra. "Lili Damita". Allmovie. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  2. ^ Erickson, Hal. "The Cock-Eyed World". Allmovie. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 
  3. ^ a b Tronchoni, José L Bernabé (Nov 27, 2002). "Lily Damita". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2009-08-08. 


  • Bermingham, Cedric Osmond (1931). Stars of the screen 1931: A volume of biographies of contemporary actors and actresses engaged in photoplay throughout the world. London: Herbert Joseph. 
  • "Lily Damita". Stars of the Photoplay. Chicago: Photoplay magazine. 1930. 

External links

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