Classic Hollywood #12

Lili Damita in Fighting Caravans 1931

The beautiful Liliane Marie Madeleine Carré also known as Lili Damita poses for Eugene Robert Richee, one of Hollywood’s great glamor photographers.

Lili was in the process of filming Fighting Caravans, a Western based upon a Zane Grey book, co-starring Gary Cooper.

Born in France in either 1901 or  1904 (sources are unclear), Lili was briefly married to director Michael Curtiz (Casablaca,  The Adventures of Robin Hood, Mildred Pierce, etc. ) from 1925-1926.

Lili announced her engagement on May 1, 1929 to the Crown Prince of Germany, Louis Ferdinand, who was only 21 at the time. They would be married, Lili declared “when he makes a success.” The marriage never took place.

Lili is best known today not for her movies, but for her marriage in 1935 to a then virtually unknown Errol Flynn. Lili was several years older than Errol and their marriage would be complicated, contentious and filled with wild love-making and even wilder fights. As Lili said in a 1939 interview:

“Being married to Flynn is exactly like living on top of a volcano. I like that. A volcano which does erupt. Constantly – yes, but daily! We are always just arriving or just leaving. Flynn and I. As the term is generally understood, Flynn is not a ‘good husband’ at all. But he is an exciting person to live with. And that makes him, for me, a very good husband. Because I like to live dangerously, unpeacefully.”

While Lili’s movie carrer ended in 1937, Errol’s career skyrocketed and the hedonistic Flynn was indulging just too much for Lili’s taste. After many separations and reconciliations, Lili sued for divorce on November 7, 1941.

Their only child, Sean Flynn born May 31, 1941, tried acting, became a photographer, and was captured in Cambodia in 1970 by communist guerillas. Lili spent the remaining years of her life having investigators search for her missing son. He was never seen again.

Lili married Eskimo Pie executive Allen R. Loomis in 1962. That marriage ended in divorce in 1983.

Lili Damita died in Palm Beach, FL on March 21, 1994 from complications of Alzheimers.

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