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Beatrice Lillie

Biography

b. 29 Might 1894, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, d. 20 January 1989, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, Britain. An incomparable musician – a comedienne, celebrity, and vocalist – who was simply known within the 20s and 30s as ‘the funniest girl on earth.’ After leaving college at age 15 to create a singing trio with her mom and sister, Lillie moved to Britain before Globe Battle I. From 1914-1922, she starred in some Western world End revues, mainly made by André Charlot. These included IMPROBABLE! (1914), 5064 Gerrard (1915), Examples (1916), Some (1916), Cheep (1917), Tabs (1918), Bran Pie (1919), OCCASIONALLY (1921), Pot Good fortune (1921), as well as the Nine O’Time clock Revue (1922). She also got the comic business lead within the Jerome Kern / Man Bolton / P.G. Wodehouse musical humor, Oh, Pleasure! (1919), which got played on the Princess Theater in NY under the name of Oh, Boy! In 1920, Lillie wedded Robert Peel off, a descendant from the founder from the Metropolitan Law enforcement, and became Female Peel off five years afterwards when his baronet dad died. 2 yrs later she produced her Broadway debut, with Gertrude Lawrence and Jack port Buchanan, within the smash strike André Charlot’s Revue, and nearly stopped the present every night using the splendidly chaotic ‘March With Me’ amount. After even more Charlot revues in London and NY, Lillie made an appearance in two musical comedies. She duetted with Charles Purcell on Anne Caldwell and Vincent Youmans’ ‘I UNDERSTAND THAT You Understand’ in Oh, Make sure you! (NY 1926), and brought the home down every evening with her making of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s ‘A Baby’s Greatest Friend’ (is certainly his mom) in She’s My Baby (NY 1928). Time for revue, she co-starred with Noël Coward, and sang the long lasting ‘Globe Weary’, in his hugely successful THIS SEASON Of Sophistication! (NY 1928). A short foray in to the Western End with Charlot’s Masquerade (1930), was accompanied by The Third Small Show (NY 1931), where she launched American audiences to some other Coward traditional, ‘Mad Canines And Englishmen’. Through the 30s Lillie was probably one of the most popular of superstars, the darling from the interpersonal set, as well as the toast of two continents. She continuing to excite and pleasure theatregoers on both edges from the Atlantic in productions such as for example Walk JUST A LITTLE Faster (NY 1932), Make sure you (London 1933), IN THE HOME Abroad (NY 1935), The Display Is definitely On (NY 1936), Happy Earnings (London 1938), and everything Obvious (London 1939). It is stated that Cole Porter published his ‘tale of a headache weekend’, ‘Say thanks to You A LOT, Mrs. Lowsborough-Goodby’, for Lillie, and Coward offered her his delightfully gossipy ‘I’ve GONE TO A Marvellous Party’ in Arranged To Music (1939). She produced her cabaret debut in 1939 at London’s Café Royal, and – aside from showing up in Herbert Farjeon’s revue, Big Best (London 1942), plus some right theater – spent the majority of Globe War II enjoyable the troops in the home and overseas. She was embellished by General de Gaulle using the French Liberation Medal, and through the entire 40s continuing to criss-cross the Atlantic, showing up in revues such as for example Seven Lively Arts (NY 1944), Better Past due (London 1946), and Inside USA (NY 1948), in addition to working frequently on radio and in cabaret. In 1953 she received a Tony Honor for the brand new York production of the Night time With Beatrice Lillie, that was also provided at the world Theater in London a calendar year later. One of the Western world End cast after that was composer/librettist Leslie Bricusse, who maintained his association with her for a few years. Actually, he and Anthony Newley composed their smash strike musical, Stop THE PLANET – I WISH TO LOG OFF, early in 1961, while Bricusse was dealing with Lillie in NY. Before that, she was a very important thing within a generally disappointing Golden Jubilee model from the Ziegfeld Follies (1957), a superbly eccentric aunt in Auntie Mame in London (1958), in addition to getting her anarchic personal in Late Night time With Beatrice Lillie on the 1960 Edinburgh Celebration. She produced her last Broadway appearance, as Madame Arcati, in Great Spirits, the 1964 musical predicated on Noël Coward’s play Blithe Heart. Although her profession spanned the time from silent features towards the Audio Of Music, Lillie produced just a few movies – she required a live target audience to inspire her. Most likely her most informing display appearance was as an amusing oriental white slave investor in Thoroughly Contemporary Millie (1967). Soon after struggling a heart stroke in 1975 that remaining her partially paralysed, she came back to Britain and spent the rest of her existence in illness at her house in Henley. After her loss of life, Sir John Gielgud paid a coming in contact with tribute, and stated that he considered her as ‘The Mistress from the Absurd’, recalling her in overall performance at the wintertime Garden Theater, in NY, ‘standing significantly against a pillar dressed up in a flowing dress which she raised all of a sudden to reveal her foot shod in roller skates which she gravely skidded over the stage’. With her brand Eton crop topped with a good cover, and bearing an extended cigarette holder, she was a genuine primary – the foe of pomposity, along with a murderer from the sentimental – very much to the joy of her market. Fortunately, a lot of her satirical and surrealistic comic quantities and skits, such as for example ‘There Are Fairies IN THE BOTTOM Of My Backyard’, ‘Increase Damask’, ‘Weary FROM IT All’, ‘Blowing wind Round My Center’, and ‘This Is definitely My First Affair’ (‘therefore please become kind’ – which during her edition, became ‘make sure you become quick’), are maintained on record.

Quick Facts


Full Name Beatrice Lillie
Date Of Birth May 29, 1894
Died January 20, 1989, Henley-on-Thames, United Kingdom
Height 1.63 m
Profession Actor, Singer, Comedian
Nationality American, Canadian, British
Spouse Sir Robert Peel, 5th Baronet
Children Sir Robert Peel, 6th Baronet
Parents Lucie-Ann Shaw, John Lillie
Awards Special Tony Award, Outer Critics Circle Award for Other Awards
Music Songs There Are Fairies At The Bottom Of Our Garden, Weary Of It All, Wind Round My Heart, Mad About the Boy, Paree, I Apologise, Folk Song Cycle, Mother Told Me So, He Was a Gentleman, Piccolo Marina, The Party's Over Now, Clop! Clip! Clop!, Peter Joe's Song, Oh, For A Night In The Ballroom, A Bar on the Piccola Marina, I've Been To A Marvellous Party, The Carnival of the Animals, Clop Clip Clop, Like He Loves Me, Come, Oh Come, The Yodelling Goldfish, Lady Windermere's Fan, Talking to You, That Wonderful Lamp, Medley: I Want to Go Back to Michigan / Where the Black Eyed Susans Grow / Lazy / Susanna's Squeaking Shoes, Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals, Honey Ma' Love, Three Little Fishies / Hold Tight, Hold Tight, At The Mardi Gras, Nicodemus, Go Into Your Trance, The Bicycle Song, What New At the Zoo?
Albums An Evening With Beatrice Lillie, Auntie Bea, Clop! Clip! Clop!, Children's Classics, The Very Best Of
Nominations Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical
Movies Thoroughly Modern Millie, Around the World in 80 Days, On Approval, Doctor Rhythm, The Show of Shows, Exit Smiling, Are You There?


  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1 She was having her hair coiffed at the Elizabeth Arden Salon in New York City when the wife of the founder of the Armour meat-packing company entered, noticed her, and complained loudly that she didn't realize there would be "chorus girls" present or she would not have come. Soon thereafter, as Lillie--who was married to the British Sir Robert Peel--was leaving and saying goodbye to the manageress in the waiting room, she said, "You may tell the butcher's wife that Lady Peel has finished".
2 According to Axel Madsen in "The Sewing Circle", she was considered for the role of "The Good Witch" in The Wizard of Oz (1939) in 1936, but was thought too funny for the role.
3 Profiled in the book, "Funny Ladies", by Stephen M. Silverman. [1999]
4 Biography in: "American National Biography". Supplement 1, pp. 361-363 New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
5 Close intimate friends with such vast personalities as Noël Coward, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Chaplin and Sir Winston Churchill.
6 In 1948, at age 54, she met singer/actor John Philip Huck, 28 years her junior. Despite their huge age difference, he became her manager and her companion for the rest of her life. Huck died of a heart attack the day after Bea passed away. They were buried side by side near her mother and sister in a small cemetery near Peel Fold.
7 She married Robert Peel in 1920, the extravagant heir of Lord Peel. When her father-in-law died in the mid-'20s, she and Robert became Lord and Lady Peel. When husband Robert died of peritonitis in 1934, he left behind huge debts which forced Bea to continue working non-stop for years to come.
8 Her son, who had enlisted in the Royal Navy, was killed in 1942 during a Japanese air raid on the port of Colombo, Ceylon.


Actress

Actress

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Before the Fringe 1967 TV Series
Thoroughly Modern Millie 1967 Mrs. Meers
Around the World in Eighty Days 1956 Leader of London Revivalist Group
All Star Revue 1950 TV Series Guest Vocalist
On Approval 1944 Maria Wislack
Dotor Rhythm 1938 Mrs. Lorelei Dodge-Blodgett
Are You There? 1930 Shirley Travis (as Beatrice Lilly)
The Show of Shows 1929 Performer in 'Recitations' Number
Exit Smiling 1926 Violet

Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Around the World in Eighty Days 1956 performer: "Have Courage to Say No" - uncredited
The Show of Shows 1929 performer: "Your Mother and Mine" 1929 - uncredited

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 1962-1969 TV Series Herself - Guest / Herself
Juke Box Jury 1961-1967 TV Series Herself - Panellist
The Joey Bishop Show 1967 TV Series Herself
The Linkletter Show 1967 TV Series Herself
Today 1967 TV Series Herself
Gypsy 1967 TV Series Herself
The Bob Hope Show 1965 TV Series Herself - Guest
The Jack Paar Program 1964-1965 TV Series Herself / Herself (on film)
The Eamonn Andrews Show 1964 TV Series Herself
What's My Line? 1952-1964 TV Series Herself - Mystery Guest
The Jack Paar Tonight Show 1961-1962 TV Series Herself
The Tonight Show 1962 TV Series Herself - Actress
The 15th Annual Tony Awards 1961 TV Special Herself - Accepting Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
The Ed Sullivan Show 1952-1960 TV Series Herself / Sketch Actor
The Bell Telephone Hour 1960 TV Series Herself - Singer
G.P.O. Telephone Personality Girl 1959 TV Movie Herself - Performer
The Dinah Shore Chevy Show 1958 TV Series Herself
The 11th Annual Tony Awards 1957 TV Special Herself - Presenter
The Pat Boone-Chevy Showroom 1957 TV Series Herself
The Arthur Murray Party 1950-1957 TV Series Herself
The Walter Winchell Show 1956 TV Series Herself
Person to Person 1956 TV Series documentary Herself
This Is Show Business 1952 TV Series Herself
This Is Show Business 1950-1952 TV Series Herself
The Ezio Pinza Show 1951 TV Series Herself
The Colgate Comedy Hour 1951 TV Series Herself
The Star-Spangled Revue 1950 TV Movie Herself
Star Spangled Revue 1950 TV Movie Herself
Texaco Star Theatre 1949 TV Series Herself - Actress
A Welcome to Britain 1943 Documentary Herself (uncredited)
Broadway Highlights No. 2 1935 Short Herself
Beatrice Lillie 1929 Short Herself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
American Masters 1997 TV Series documentary Herself
Bob Hope's Birthday Memories 1994 TV Movie documentary Herself
Paramount Headliner: Broadway Highlights No. 1 1935 Short Bea Lillie (as Bea Lillie)

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1960 Star on the Walk of Fame Walk of Fame Motion Picture On 8 February 1960. At 6404 Hollywood Blvd.


Looks like we don't have salary information. Sorry!


#Quote
1 [In answer to an interviewer's question 'Miss Lillie, what lies at the bottom of your art?'] There are fairies at the bottom of my art.
2 [To a pigeon who flew into her apartment and perched on a nearby chair] Any messages?
3 I was born because my mother needed a fourth for meals.

#Trademark
1 String of pearls and a long cigarette holder

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