Early life and career
Dove was born Bertha Bohny in New York City in 1903 to Charles and Bertha (née Kagan) Bohny, who were both Jewish immigrants. As a teen, she worked as a model to help support her family and was hired as a teenager by Florenz Ziegfeld to appear in his Ziegfeld Follies Revue. She legally changed her name to Lillian Bohny in the early 1920s and moved to Hollywood, where she began appearing in silent films. She soon became one of the more 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 The American Beauty (1927).
She married Irvin Willat, the director of her seventh film, in 1923. The two divorced in 1929. Dove had a legion of male fans, one of her more persistent was Howard Hughes. She had a three-year romance with Hughes and was engaged to marry him, but she ended the relationship.
Dove was also a pilot, poet, and painter.
Following her last film Blondie of the Follies (1932), Dove retired from the screen to be with her family. She married wealthy oil executive Robert Alan Kenaston in 1933, a marriage that lasted for 37 years until his death in 1970. The couple had a son, Robert Alan Kenaston, Jr., who married actress Claire Kelly and died in 1995 from cancer, and an adopted daughter, Gail who briefly married media mogul Merv Adelson. Billie Dove later had a brief third marriage to architect John Miller, which ended in divorce in the 1970s.
Aside from a cameo in Diamond Head (1963), Dove never returned to the movies. She spent her retirement years in Rancho Mirage, then moved to the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California where she died of pneumonia on New Year's Eve 1997, aged 94.
She is interred in the Freedom Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Glendale.
|1921||Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford||Dorothy Wells||Lost film|
|At the Stage Door||Mary Mathews||Lost film|
|1922||Polly of the Follies||Alysia Potter||Lost film|
|Beyond the Rainbow||Marion Taylor|
|Youth to Youth||Eve Allison||Lost film|
|One Week of Love||Bathing Party Guest||Uncredited|
|1923||All the Brothers Were Valiant||Priscilla Holt||Incomplete|
|Madness of Youth||Nanette Benning||Lost film|
|Soft Boiled||The Girl|
|The Lone Star Ranger||Helen Longstreth||Lost film|
|The Thrill Chaser||Olala Ussan||Incomplete|
|1924||On Time||Helen Hendon||Lost film|
|Try and Get It||Rhoda Perrin||Lost film|
|Yankee Madness||Dolores||Lost film|
|Wanderer of the Wasteland||Ruth Virey||Lost film; filmed in Technicolor|
|The Roughneck||Felicity Arden||Lost film|
|The Folly of Vanity||Alice|
|1925||The Air Mail||Alice Rendon|
|The Light of Western Stars||Madeleine Hammond||Lost film|
|Wild Horse Mesa||Sue Melberne|
|The Lucky Horseshoe||Eleanor Hunt|
|The Fighting Heart||Doris Anderson||Lost film|
|The Ancient Highway||Antoinette St. Ives||Lost film|
|1926||The Black Pirate||Princess Isobel||Filmed in Technicolor|
|The Lone Wolf Returns||Marcia Mayfair|
|The Marriage Clause||Sylvia Jordan||Incomplete|
|Kid Boots||Eleanore Belmore|
|1927||An Affair of the Follies||Tamara||Lost film|
|Sensation Seekers||Luena "Egypt" Hagen|
|The Tender Hour||Marcia Kane|
|The Stolen Bride||Sari|
|The American Beauty||Millicent Howard||Lost film|
|The Love Mart||Antoinette Frobelle||Lost film|
|1928||The Heart of a Follies Girl||Teddy O'Day||Lost film|
|Yellow Lily||Judith Peredy|
|Night Watch||Yvonne Corlaix|
|The Man and the Moment||Joan Winslow|
|Her Private Life||Lady Helen Haden|
|The Painted Angel||Mammie Hudler||Lost film; Vitaphone track survives|
|1930||The Other Tomorrow||Edith Larrison||Lost film|
|A Notorious Affair||Patricia Hanley|
|Sweethearts and Wives||Femme de Chambre|
|One Night at Susie's||Mary Martin|
|1931||The Lady Who Dared||Margaret Townsend|
|The Age for Love||Jean Hurt||Lost film|
|1932||Cock of the Air||Lili de Rosseau|
|Blondie of the Follies||Lottie|
|1962||Diamond Head||Herself||Cameo role|
- Other sources including the California registry of births and deaths cite 1900 or 1901 as her year of birth, although the 1910 census supports 1903 as her year of birth, as does her entry in the New York City Birth Registry.
- Drew, William M. Billie Dove profile Archived July 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, The Lady in the Main Title: On the Twenties and Thirties. Vestal Press, 1997.
- Wagner, Bruce. "Moving Pictures", Annals of Hollywood, The New Yorker. July 20, 1998, p. 54.
- Dietrich, Noah; Thomas, Bob (1972). Howard, The Amazing Mr. Hughes. Greenwich: Fawcett Publications, Inc. p. 89.
- Gussow, Mel (January 6, 1998). "Billie Dove, Damsel in Distress In Silent Films, Is Dead at 97". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
- Los Angeles Times: "Gail Adelson; Hostess, Home Designer to the Stars" by Myrna Oliver February 22, 1999
- "Billie Dove (1903–1997)", Goldensilents.com. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
- Kliment, Bud. Billie Holiday. Holloway House Publishing, 1990, p. 29. ISBN 978-0-87067-561-4.
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