Monday, January 4, 2010

Lillian Roth

Lillian Roth (December 13, 1910 - May 12, 1980) was a singer and comedienne who appeared in the movies in the early 30s

Intelligent and very cute, and a talented physical comedian as well as an excellent singer, she was featured in the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers in 1930, where she reprised the skit which is shown below in the form of a short:

Meet The Boy Friend, 1930

(extra jazz aficionado points to whoever can identify the violinist in the opening minute of this short!)

The Story Conference, 1934

The thing that takes Lillian's story from that of a bright bauble of the jazz age to real pathos was her struggle with alcoholism. From about 1935 to the early 50s (except for a couple of appearances in 1939), she disappeared from show business while she went through this dark passage in her life. She joined AA in 1946, and in 1954 she published her autobiography, I'll Cry Tomorrow, which became a bestseller and was made into a movie starring Susan Hayward.

She returned to performing, appearing in a successful nightclub act in the 50s, and broadway musicals in the 60s and 70s.

No matter how much alchohol, bad husbands, and financial difficulties plagued Lillian throughout her life, she never lost her unique sparkling charm and intelligence that shines so brightly in the clips that preserve her for us. Here she is at 47, after having survived her biggest ordeal, looking like a million dollars:

What's My Line appearance, 1957

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