Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ziegfeld Girls IV

So, we continue on the track of beautiful, glamorous ladies who were quite famous in their own time...and then faded into poverty and obscurity.

Lillian Lorraine was definitely one of those girls. She was also one of those girls who was more well known for her personal life rather than her professional life. Ziegfeld himself fell for her.

Lillian Lorraine was born Ealallean De Jacques on January 1, 1892 in San Francisco, California. Previously, I had thought that her birth name was "Mary Ann Brennan," but after looking at Census records, I found that her parents were both from France, so De Jacques seemed more appropriate.

She made her dancing debut in 1906 and was discovered by Ziegfeld 3 years later. She soon became not only a performer in his show, but his mistress (He was married to another showgirl, Anna Held, at the time).

It was pretty apparent that she was an important figure in Ziegfeld's life because she had starring roles in his productions from 1909 to 1912. She knew how to use him too. She always turned down his marriage proposals and liked making him jealous by flirting with other men.

Like many people during this time, Lillian loved to live it up! She drank quite a bit and had a tendency to get into trouble. In the year 1912 alone she was involved in a scandalous affair with a chauffeur who took her jewelry and ran and then was briefly married to a bigamist who once assaulted Florenz Ziegfeld. She also was involved in a blackmail scheme that ended with one person dead. It was also rumored that she had some times with the mob and other underworld figures.

By 1914, the Ziegfeld/Lorraine affair had cooled off, but the two remained close and he still supported her. He continued to cast her in his shows, but she wanted to try her hand at acting for the movies too. She appeared in around 10 films, and I am pretty sure all of them were shorts...and pretty sure none of them are around anymore.

In 1921, she suffered a terrible spine injury when she tripped outside of a night club. She couldn't dance, so she couldn't be in any Ziegfeld shows or any other vaudeville shows, so as a result, her fame decreased very fast. She lived in poverty for the last 20 some years of her life.

Lillian Lorraine passed away on April 17, 1955 in New York.

She was originally buried in an unmarked pauper's grave until a few years later when some of her friends arranged to have her buried in a plot with her last husband in the Calvary Cemetery in the Bronx.

Apparently, after Lillian's death, Ziegfeld's wife/widow, Billie Burke said that of all the girls that Ziegfeld wooed and had affairs with, she was the most jealous of Lillian. I have also heard this same thing attributed to Olive Thomas...so who knows.


  1. Wasn't Lillian Lorraine the daughter of Laura Fair, the woman how shot her lover in 1871?

    1. Hello Mysterious Anonymous!
      THIS particular Lillian Lorraine was not the daughter of Laura Fair. What I am guessing is that Laura either named her daughter for Lillian the Ziegfeld star, or it was just a coincidence in the name. Laura's daughter, Lillian Lorraine Hollis died in 1913 most likely from malnutrition. She herself also worked as an actress, but she wasn't the same one mentioned here.
      Interesting connection though, eh?