07 May 2012

Lilian Bond

Lovely British actress Lilian Bond (1908 - 1991) made over 50 films in Hollywood from the late 1920’s through the 1940’s. One of her first roles was in James Whale’s classic horror comedy The Old Dark House (1932), but in later years she mostly appeared in B-movies, both in leading parts and in bit roles.

Lilian Bond
Dutch postcard, no. 116. Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Beauty Contest
Lilian Bond (sometimes credited as Lillian Bond) was born and educated in London. In 1926 she won a beauty contest, and shortly afterwards, she went to New York, where she was hired for The Ziegfeld Follies. She made her film debut in No More Children (1929, Albert H. Kelley), and between 1929 and 1931 she starred in nine films. The western Rider of the Plains (1931, John P. McCarthy) opposite Tom Tyler, and the romantic comedy Just a Gigolo (1931, Jack Conway) with William Haines launched her career. In 1932 she was voted by the Western Association of Motion Picture Advertisers (WAMPAS) as one of the fifteen WAMPAS Baby Stars (the most promising young film actresses) alongside future Hollywood legends Gloria Stuart and Ginger Rogers. Her films during the 1930’s included the Joe E. Brown comedy Fireman Save My Child (1932, Lloyd Bacon), the crime drama Pick-Up (1933, Marion Gering) with George Raft and Sylvia Sidney, Double Harness (1933, John Cromwell), and Affairs of a Gentleman (1934, Edwin L. Marin). Her refined British accent provided a unique contrast to the gold-digging characters she was required to play. Her best film of this period was the gothic comedy The Old Dark House (1932, James Whale), based on a spooky story by J. B. Priestly. Lilian was here part of a wonderful ensemble cast, including Boris Karloff, Ernest Thesiger, Eva Moore, Gloria Stuart, Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey, and Melvyn Douglas.

Lilian Bond
Dutch postcard by Croese & Bosman, no. 534. Photo: Columbia Film.

The Westerner
From 1932 to 1953 Lilian Bond would play roles in 39 films, some of which were uncredited, with others having her in the lead heroine role. She worked for Paramount, Universal, First National (Warner Brothers) and MGM. Probably her best known film role was in the closing scenes of The Westerner (1940, William Wyler) which starred Gary Cooper . She played legendary British stage actress Lillie Langtry, object of Judge Roy Bean's (Walter Brennan) unyielding desire. By the 1950’s her film career had slowed down, and she had mainly television series appearances. She retired from acting in 1958. Lilian Bond married two or three times. First, she married Sidney Smith at the height of her career in 1934, but the two divorced in 1944. According to some sources, she then married actor Morton Lowry 1n 1950. Lowry is best known for his vilainous performance in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939, Sidney Lanfield), but there are doubts if this marriage actually took place (see comments). However, in 1961 Lilian Bond married TV producer Michael Fessier, and in 1991 she died of a heart attack in Reseda, California.

Clip from The Old Dark House (1932) with Lilian Bond and Melvyn Douglas.

Sources: Operator99 (Allure), Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Wikipedia, and IMDb.


Angel A Knight said...

Hi I'm trying to find some documented source confirming the marriage between lillian and morton, as he is my partners father and we are looking to document this as a fact or not having spoken to michael fessiers son, lilians step son, this seems unlikely.

Paul van Yperen said...

Hi Angel, Thanks for the comment. The information is based on the sources as mentioned. We'll change the information about the marriage. Bob