Lilyan Tashman ~ Hollywood's Wild Lesbian

Lilyan Tashman

"Hollywood is no place for failures. It's no place for the timid" ~ Lilyan

Lilyan Tashman was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 23, 1896. She was the youngest of ten children and started modeling when she was a teenager. Her acting career began in vaudeville and she appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies. At the age of eighteen she married stage actor Al Lee. The marriage lasted seven years. She made her film debut in the 1921 drama Experience. Lilyan costarred with Mabel Normand in Head Over Heels and with Gloria Swanson Manhandled. In 1925 she appeared in ten films including Pretty Ladies, Seven Days, and Bright Lights. She usually played supporting roles and found herself typecast as a villain. Lilyan was a lesbian and had numerous affairs with other actresses. She fell madly in love with actress Greta Garbo who broke her heart. Then she decided to marry her best friend, actor Edmund Lowe, who was also gay. The couple lived in a mansion called "Lilowe" where they threw wild parties that often turned into orgies. Her love of clothes and her lavish wardrobe earned her the title of "the best dressed woman on the screen".

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She also became known for her violent temper. In 1931 she beat up June Marlowe after finding the actress in her husband's dressing room. She also got into a fist fight with Lupe Velez. Lilyan easily made the transition to sound pictures and signed a signed a lucrative contract with Paramount. She got rave reviews for her comedic roles in The Wiser Sex and Girls About Town. Unfortunately she was suffering from many health problems including bulimia. She was diagnosed with abdominal cancer in 1932 but she kept it a secret from the public. She continued to make movies until her condition worsened. Her role in the 1934 drama Riptide had to be shortened because she was too sick. Tragically she died on March 21, 1934 from complications due to cancer. Lilyan was only thirty-seven years old. She was buried at Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Dozens of celebrities attended her funeral and her devoted fans nearly caused a riot. Her final film Frankie and Johnny was released two years after her death.



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Lilyan Tashman

Lilyan is one of many actresses who appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies and then died young. Was she a victim of the Ziegfeld Follies curse?