Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lillian Roth

The other night I sat down and watched the Warner Archives DVD of MADAM SATAN (1930) and, while I had mixed feelings about the rather overlong film, I fell in love with actress Lillian Roth. She was so cute and energetic playing a flirty bad girl acting as girlfriend to married Reginald Denny that I could not keep my eyes off of her or her legs! I wasn't sure I had ever seen her before so one trip to IMDB later I learned that I probably had not. At least, I can't remember her from the Marx Brothers' ANIMAL CRACKERS which is the only title I recognize from her resume.

But then I read on and learned all this from her Bio page -

"The sudden death of her fiancĂ© in the early 30s drove Lillian over the brink. She found liquor to be a calming sensation, which led to a full-scale addiction. Marriages, one to renown Municipal Court Justice Benjamin Shalleck, came and went at a steady pace. There would be eight in all. Her career self-destructed as she spiraled further and further into alcoholic oblivion and delirium. Decades would be spent in and out of mental institutions until she met and married T. Burt McGuire, Jr., a former alcoholic in the late 40s. With his support, Lillian slowly revived her career with club work. She became a singing sensation again and toured throughout the world, receiving ecstatic reviews wherever she went. Lillian's daring autobiography, "I'll Cry Tomorrow" was published in 1954 and topped The New York Times Best Sellers List. She left out few details of her sordid past and battle with substance abuse. She would become the first celebrity to associate her name with Alcoholics Anonymous, putting a well-known face on the disease while doing her part in helping to remove the social stigma. A bold, no-holds-barred film adaptation of Lillian's book followed. Susan Hayward's gutsy portrayal of Lillian won her a fourth Oscar nomination. Lillian herself would return to films in her twilight years but only in small roles and to minor fanfare."  -  Gary Brumburgh

Holy Crap! I'm going to have to try to see I'LL CRY TOMORROW(1955) soon. I wonder if it pops up on Turner Classic Movies with any regularity. 

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