Beatrice Lillie

Beatrice Lillie

Birth
Toronto, Toronto Municipality, Ontario, Canada
Death 20 Jan 1989 (aged 94)
Henley-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire District, Oxfordshire, England
Burial Henley-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire District, Oxfordshire, England
Memorial ID 10190028 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Comedienne, Actress. She is remembered, with her signature pearls and long cigarette holder, as the “Funniest Woman in the World.” Having a sophisticated-dry British humor, she is considered one of the top theatrical comediennes of the 20th century. Beginning her career with her mother and older sister in Canada, her successful solo stage career began in London, England in 1914 at the West End's Chatham Music Hall with “Not Likely!”. She became part of Andre Charlot's Revue. With World War I taking English male actors, she was often dressed in a top hat and tails in a male role. On January 5, 1920 she married Sir Robert Peel, 5th Barnonet, who died in 1934 from peritonitis after being thrown from a horse. They had a son, who was killed in action serving in the Royal Navy during World War II. In 1921, she appeared in “Up in Mabel's Room,” in a year-long run of “Nine O'clock Revue” in 1922, “This Year of Grace” in 1928, and appeared in successful revues one after another until 1939. Her favorite song, “Mad Dogs and Englishman,” was written in 1931 by Sir Noel Coward. In 1924, she returned to North America becoming an instant success on Broadway. Her appearance in films was limited but included the 1926 silent film “Exit Smiling,” in 1938 “Doctor Rhythm,” in 1944 the British film, “On Approval” and in 1967 “Thoroughly Modern Millie”. She loved sending her live audiences into fits of laughter, thus movie making was not for her. She entertained troops during World War II in a variety of locations including England, Germany and Africa. She received a letter of gratitude from Buckingham Palace and a decoration from General Charles de Gaulle for her efforts during the war. After World War II, she appeared in the revue “Inside U.S.A.” from 1948 to 1950. In a one-woman show entitled “An Evening with Beatrice Lillie” in 1952, she performed in 275 shows on Broadway and toured across Canada three times. Her last stage performances were in “Auntie Mame” in 1958 in London, “High Spirits” in 1964 New York City, and in 1964 the musical version of Sir Noel Coward's “Blithe Spirit.” Coward had become her longtime personal friend as well as the director of numerous of her revues. In 1953 she was the recipient of a Special Tony Award for her performance in “Inside U.S.A.” and nominated for a Tony Award in 1957 for “Ziegfeld Follies” and in 1964 for “Blithe Spirit.” She was inducted to the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8, 1961 with her star being located on the south side of the 6400 block of Hollywood Boulevard. Showing a left-sided profile, Neysa McMein painted her portrait in 1949. Her health started to decline in 1971. Published before her first stroke of a series, her 1973 autobiography, “Every Other Inch a Lady” told her story. With around-the-clock nursing care, she left New York City in 1977 to return to Peel Fold Estate in England. With the strokes leaving her unable to speak, paralyzed, and bedridden, she died from the complications of the strokes and Alzheimer's Disease at the age of 94. Within 31 hours of her death, her longtime companion and professional manager, John Philip Huck, died of a heart attack. They were buried together in the same plot with her sister and mother. Some sources incorrectly state that her birth name was “Constance Sylvia Gladys Munston,” yet her obituaries and autobiography do not mention this name and the online birth registry has her name as Beatrice Gladys Lillie.

Bio by: Linda Davis


Family Members

Spouse
Children

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

How famous was Beatrice Lillie?

Current rating:

91 votes

Sign-in to cast your vote.

  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: José L Bernabé Tronchoni
  • Added: 29 Dec 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10190028
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Beatrice Lillie (29 May 1894–20 Jan 1989), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10190028, citing St. Margaret's Churchyard, Henley-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire District, Oxfordshire, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .