Bille Dove – The American Beauty

Billie Dove (1903-1997) was in her heyday known for her voluptuous femininity on the silent screen, rivaled that of Mary Pickford, Marion Davies and Clara Bow in popularity. She retired after only a few years into the talking picture era, however, and is not as well-remembered in today’s film circles as the aforementioned.

She was born Bertha Bohny to Swiss immigrant parents. As a teen, she worked as a model to help support her family and was hired as a teenager by Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld to appear in his Ziegfeld Follies Revue.

However, a burgeoning affair between Dove and Ziegfeld prompted Ziegfeld’s wife Billie Burke to arrange work out West for the young starlet in Hollywood 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).

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 married oil executive Robert Kenaston in 1933.

Ziegfeld Model - Non-Risque - by Alfred Cheney Johnston

Billie Dove as a Ziegfield Follies Girl, by Alfred Cheney Johnston

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Ziegfeld Model - Risque - 1920s - by Alfred Cheney Johnston

Billie Dove as a Ziegfield Follies Girl by Alfred Cheney Johnston

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Billie Dove

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Billie-Dove-Bride

Billie Dove as a Bride

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Billie Dove

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Billie Dove

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Billæie Dove in Blondie of the Follies, her last film (1932)

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Billie Dove (Reprise)