Lila Lee



  • Birth Name: Augusta Wilhelmena Fredericka Appel
  • Date of Birth: 25 July 1901
  • Place Of Birth:  Union Hill, New Jersey, USA
  • Height: 5' 3" (1.6 m)


A performer since childhood (she was widely known then as “Cuddles”), pert and pretty, raven-haired Lila Lee was brought to Hollywood by Paramount mogul Jesse L. Lasky and debuted in a starring role with The Cruise of the Make-Believes (1918) as a poor girl supported by a rich admirer. Following her appearance as a servant wench in Cecil B. DeMille’s Male and Female (1919), Paramount starting grooming her to eventually supplant the highly temperamental and troublesome Gloria Swanson. Lila’s talent, however, was lighter in weight and, though she enjoyed great popularity in such films as Blood and Sand (1922) with Rudolph Valentino, Another Man’s Wife (1924), The Midnight Girl (1925), Love, Live and Laugh (1929) co-starring George Jessel and The Unholy Three (1930) opposite Lon Chaney, Swanson had little to worry about. A series of bad judgments and highly publicized bouts with illness led to Lila’s swift decline. She made a few dismal comebacks on stage and in TV soaps in the 1950s but to little fanfare. Her last picture was as a hayseed mom in the deservedly obscure Cottonpickin’ Chickenpickers (1967). Her actor-turned-writer son James Kirkwood Jr., however, earned fame on his own for penning the play “P.S. Your Cat Is Dead” and the musical “A Chorus Line.” Lila died of a stroke in 1973.