Lili Damita (10 July 1904 – 21 March 1994) was a French-American actress and singer who appeared in 33 films between 1922 and 1937.
Early life and education
Born Liliane Marie-Madeleine Carré in Blaye, France, she was educated in convents and ballet schools in several European countries, including France, Spain and Portugal. At 14, she was enrolled as a dancer at the Opera de Paris.
As a teenager, she was performing in popular music halls, eventually appearing in the Revue at the Casino de Paris. She worked as a photographic model. Offered a role in film as a prize for winning a magazine beauty competition in 1921, she appeared in several silent films before being offered her first leading role in Das Spielzeug von Paris (1925) by Hungarian-born director Michael Curtiz. She was an instant success, and Curtiz directed her in two more films: Fiaker Nr 13 (1926) and Der Goldene Schmetterling (1926). Damita continued appearing in German productions directed by Robert Wiene (Die Grosse Abenteuerin; 1927), G.W. Pabst (Man Spielt nicht mit der Liebe; 1926) and British director Graham Cutts (The Queen Was in the Parlour; 1927).
In 1928, at the invitation of Samuel Goldwyn she went to Hollywood, making her American debut in a film titled The Rescue. Leased out to various studios, she appeared with stars such as Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant and James Cagney. Her films included the box office successes The Cock-Eyed World (1929), the semi-silent The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1929) and This Is the Night (1932).
In 1935, she married a virtual unknown who would become Hollywood's biggest box office attraction, Errol Flynn, with whom she had a son, Sean Flynn (born 1941). Following the marriage, she retired from the screen. The couple divorced in 1942. (Barbara Hershey portrayed Damita in the TV film My Wicked, Wicked Ways  based on Errol Flynn's autobiography.) While living in Palm Beach, Florida, Damita married Allen Loomis, a retired Fort Dodge, Iowa dairy owner, and spent part of each year living there.
During the Cambodian Civil War (Khmer Rouge reign), her son Sean Flynn was working as a freelance photo journalist under contract to Time magazine when he and fellow journalist Dana Stone went missing on the road south of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 6 April 1970. Although Damita spent an enormous amount of money searching for her son, he was never found, and in 1984 he was declared legally dead. DNA testing was conducted on remains found in Cambodia and turned over to the U.S. authorities there in March 2010. However, the results, released 30 June 2010 by JPAC, showed the remains were not those of Sean Flynn or Dana Stone.
Lili Damita died of Alzheimer's disease on 21 March 1994, in Palm Beach, Florida, aged 89. She was interred in the Oakland Cemetery in Fort Dodge, Iowa, her husband's hometown.
|1922||Maman Pierre||Silent film|
|1922||La belle au bois dormant||Silent film|
|1922||L'Empereur des pauvres||Riquette|
|1922||La fille sauvage||Henriette Villedieu||Silent film|
|1924||Une femme dans la nuit|
|1925||Das Spielzeug von Paris||Célimène aka Susana Armard|
|1926||Cab No. 13 |
(Fiaker Nr. 13)
|1926||Secrets of a Soul |
(Geheimnisse einer Seele)
|1926||The Golden Butterfly |
(Der goldene Schmetterling)
|1926||One Does Not Play with Love |
(Man spielt nicht mit der Liebe)
|1927||The Queen Was in the Parlour||Prinzessin Nadya von Kraya|
|1927||The Famous Woman |
(Die berühmte Frau)
|1928||The Great Adventuress|
|1928||Scandal in Paris|
|1929||The Rescue||Lady Edith Travers|
|1929||The Bridge of San Luis Rey||Camila (La Perichole)|
|1929||The Cock-Eyed World||Mariana Elenita|
|1930||Let Us Be Gay |
|1931||The Bachelor Father |
(Le père célibataire)
|alternate language version|
|1931||The Woman Between||Julie Whitcomb|
|1931||Friends and Lovers||Mrs. Alva Sangrito|
|1932||This Is the Night||Germaine|
|1932||One Hour With You |
(Une heure près de toi)
|1932||The Match King||Marta Molnar|
|1933||Goldie Gets Along||Goldie LaFarge|
|1935||Brewster's Millions||Rosalie La Rue|
|1935||Frisco Kid||Belle Morra|
|1936||The Devil on Horseback||Diane Corday|
|1937||Escadrille of Chance||Edwige|
Selected stage musicals
- On Dit Ça, Paris (1923)
- Sons o'Guns, New York (1929/30)
- Here's How, London (1934)