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Leal Douglas
Leal Douglas 1920.jpg
Douglas, 1920
Lilly Elizabeth Annie Lamb

(1881-03-25)25 March 1881
Died3 February 1970(1970-02-03) (aged 88)
London, UK

Leal Douglas (born Lilly Elizabeth Annie Lamb; 25 March 1881 – 3 February 1970) was a British-Australian actress, mainly of the silent film era.

Of Scottish and English parents, Douglas emigrated to Australia as a child and began her stage career there. She took her own company to South Africa, then returned to England for her main film career, during which she had some leading roles. In 1927, she went back to Australia, where she resumed her stage career, and then in the 1940s again returned to England.


Douglas was born in March 1881, the daughter of Mary Ann Emily and Richard Douglas Lamb, a musician originally from Scotland, the son of another Richard Lamb, also a musician. Her mother was from the village of Chalford in Gloucestershire, and her parents had been married in Salford in May 1880.[1] In December 1881, their daughter was christened Lilly Elizabeth Annie at St Thomas's Church, Pendleton, in Eccles.[2]

Douglas's family emigrated to Australia, where she spent most of her childhood, and on leaving school she became a stage actress.[3] She adopted the stage name Leal Douglas and made her debut under the management of J. C. Williamson, one of her earliest appearances being as Barbara Hare in a George Marlow 1909 stage production of East Lynne.[4] Other work was with Annette Kellerman[3] and Julius Knight.[5] In 1905, she and her parents were living in Oxley, Queensland, a suburb of Brisbane.[6] On 11 October 1906, Douglas's parents announced her engagement to Frederick William Chapman, of Murphy's Creek, Churchill, Queensland,[7] and on 24 October they were married.[8][9] Her husband died in 1923 at the age of 47.

In December 1912, Douglas was touring with Aubrey Mallalieu in a piece called "Feed the Brute".[10] After a long tour of Australia and New Zealand, she and Mallalieu formed a company of their own and took it to South Africa.[11] While there, she saw that her friend Annette Kellerman was starring in a film, and wondered if one day they might appear together.[3] In May 1913, Douglas and Mallalieu travelled together on the SS Ballarat to England,[11] which in Douglas's view had at that time "world mastery of the film industry". On arrival in London, Douglas got an introduction to Florence Turner's manager and was given her first part in a film, The Rose of Surrey (1913).[3] Her other early film work included Sixty Years a Queen (1913)[5] and The Lure of London (1914).[12]

In 1917, Douglas starred as Milady de Winter in a little-known film version of The Three Musketeers.[13][3]

Douglas with Derwent Hall Cainein Darby and Joan (1920)
Douglas with Derwent Hall Caine
in Darby and Joan (1920)

Another of Douglas's starring roles was in The Beetle (1919), based on the novel by Richard Marsh, in which she played an Egyptian princess who can transform herself into a man or a beetle and uses her powers to wreak revenge.[14] A review commented "There are few vampires in the English screen world, and perhaps of these Miss Leal Douglas is the most beautiful."[15] Jonathan Rigby has called Douglas's part in the film "the polymorphous title role".[14]

In 1920, Picture Show reported that Douglas's eyes were dark brown and her height was 5 ft 7 in (170 cm), that she was an expert swimmer, was keen on riding, rowing, and golf, and had "brought the fashion for painted gloves into this country".[3]

After appearing in British films for fourteen years, latterly as a character actress, in November 1927 Douglas returned to Brisbane by the Orient Line's RMS Ormonde, wishing to visit her family. She commented to the press that America had gained supremacy in films thanks to the war, and that England was now bidding to get it back, although hampered by "the insufficiency of studios", which were hired out for only three weeks. She had recently featured in a film made in Nice and Corsica and was an admirer of the German film Metropolis (1927).[5]

In Australia, Douglas returned to working on stage, and appeared in several productions between 1928 and 1944.[16] She also had parts in the Australian films The Cheaters (made 1929, released 1930),[17] The Hayseeds (1933),[18] The Silence of Dean Maitland (1934),[19] and Harvest Gold (1945).[20]

In 1932, Douglas was living in East Sydney, New South Wales, in 1937 in Wentworth, and in 1943 was in East Sydney again.[21] Her father died in 1933,[22] and her mother in 1937, in Sydney.[23]

By 1949, Douglas was back in England and working on stage in a production of J. B. Priestley's The Linden Tree.[24] She remained in Britain and had minor parts in films there in the early 1950s.[25][26] She died in February 1970, aged 88, while living in Warwick Avenue, Little Venice, Maida Vale, London, and left an estate valued at £1,393, (£22,000 as of 2022).[27]



  1. ^ Marriages solemnized at the Parish Church of Christ Church, Salford, p. 134, at, accessed 14 April 2020: "Richard Douglas Lamb, 32 years, Bachelor, Musician / Mary Ann Emily Whiting, 25 years, Spinster, of Chalford, County of Gloucester... father William Whiting, Ship Carpenter" (subscription required)
  2. ^ 1881 United Kingdom census on 3 April 1881 for 33, Rosa Street, Pendleton, Salford, at, accessed 14 April 2020: Richard and Emily Lamb have a nine-day-old infant without a name. Richard's birth place is stated as Scotland, Emily's as Chalford, Glos. He is now a police constable; Baptisms solemnized in the Parish of Eccles church of St Thomas Pendleton in the Year of our Lord 1881, p. 74 at, accessed 14 April 2020 (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Leal Douglas, the Vampire of the British Screen" in Picture Show, 25 December 1920, at, accessed 15 April 2020
  4. ^ "PALACE—"EAST LYNNE."". Referee. New South Wales, Australia. 3 November 1909. p. 16. Retrieved 15 May 2020 – via Trove.
  5. ^ a b c d "Miss Leal Douglas, Australian film actress, returns", The Brisbane Courier, 15 November 1927, p. 20
  6. ^ "Lilly Elizabeth Anne Lamb Residence 1905 city Oxley Queensland Australia" and "Richard Douglas Lamb Residence 1905 Oxley Oxley Queensland Australia" in Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903–1980 / 1930S at, accessed 14 April 2020 (subscription required)
  7. ^ Queensland Figaro, 11 October 1906, p. 20: "Engagements: Miss Lilly Lamb, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. D. Lamb, Wolston, to Mr. F. W. Chapman, son of Mr. and Mrs. H. Chapman, Murphy's Creek. Wedding 24th October, at All Saints', Wickham Terrace."
  8. ^ Queensland Figaro, 24 October 1906, p. 17: "Marriages: 24th Oct. Miss Lily Elizabeth Annie Lamb, of Wolston, to Mr. Frederick William Chapman, of Murphy's Creek, Churchill, Queensland."
  9. ^ Frederick William Chapman at, accessed 16 April 2020
  10. ^ Public Notices in Townsville Daily Bulletin, 11 December 1912, p. 1; "Direct from Harry Rickards's Theatres. AUBREY MALLALIEU and LEAL DOUGLAS. In their latest Success Entitled. FEED THE BRUTE."
  11. ^ a b "Variety Gossip" in The Era (London, England), 24 May 1913, p. 1: "Mr. Aubrey Mallalieu, after an absence five years, is returning to England on the Ballarat, due to arrive to-day.... appeared with his own company in the leading variety theatres in South Africa, supported by the clever Australian actress, Miss Leal Douglas, who accompanies Mr. Mallalieu to England, and will resume work after a much needed rest."
  12. ^ a b Denis Gifford, The British Film Catalogue: The Fiction Film (2018), p: 123
  13. ^ a b "Twice Nightly Dumas's famous Masterpiece the Three Musketeers, strong London Cut, including— Miss LEAL DOUGLAS as Milady, and HERBERT LEONARD D'Artagnan" in Northern Whig (Antrim, Northern Ireland), 5 February 1918, p. 4
  14. ^ a b c Jonathan Rigby, English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema (Reynolds & Hearn, 2004), p. 16
  15. ^ "An English Vampire" in Shields Daily News (Northumberland, England), 20 August 1920, p. 4
  16. ^ "Leal Douglas". AusStage. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  17. ^ a b Andrew Pike, Ross Cooper, Australian film, 1900–1977: a guide to feature film production (Australian Film Institute, 1980), p. 201
  18. ^ a b The Hayseeds at, accessed 15 April 2020
  19. ^ a b Graham Shirley, Brian Adams, Australian Cinema, the First Eighty Years (Angus & Robertson, 1983), p. 145
  20. ^ a b Pike, Cooper (1980), p. 259
  21. ^ "Lilly Elizabeth A Chapman Residence 1932 city East Sydney New South Wales Australia" in Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903–1980 / 1930S at, accessed 14 April 2020 (subscription required)
  22. ^ Richard Douglas Lamb, no. 1933/295 ID 743671, in "Queensland Australia Will Index 1901—1940, Southern District" at, accessed 16 April 2020 (subscription required)
  23. ^ "Family Notices" in The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), Tue 23 November 1937, p. 9: "LAMB - The Friends of LEAL DOUGLAS are kindly invited to attend a Service in the Chapel of Rookwood Crematorium, for her dearly beloved MOTHER, Mary Ann Emily Lamb; to be held THIS DAY (Tuesday) at 10 a.m."
  24. ^ "KING'S THEATRE, SOUTHSEA" in Bognor Regis Observer (Sussex, England), 10 December 1949, p. 2
  25. ^ a b Little Big Shot (1952) at, accessed 15 April 2020
  26. ^ a b Johnny on the Run at, accessed 15 April 2020
  27. ^ "CHAPMAN Lilly Elizabeth A 25Mr1881" in Index to Register of Deaths for Paddington RD, vol. 5d (1970), p. 1,430; "CHAPMAN Lilly Elizabeth Annie of 54 Warwick Av Paddington London died 3 February 1970" in Probate Index for 1970 at, accessed 14 April 2020
  28. ^ The Rose of Surrey at, accessed 15 April 2020
  29. ^ Rachael Low, Roger Manvell, The History of the British Film: 1914–1918 (1948), p. 286
  30. ^ Thelma at, accessed 15 April 2020
  31. ^ Deception at, accessed 15 April 2020
  32. ^ Gifford (2018), p. 1267
  33. ^ Low, Manvell (1948), p. 292
  34. ^ The Lamp of Destiny at, accessed 15 April 2020
  35. ^ Darby and Joan at, accessed 15 April 2020
  36. ^ Dennis Gifford, British Film Catalogue: Two Volume Set, vol. 1 (Routledge, 2016), p. 273
  37. ^ The Uninvited Guest at, accessed 15 April 2020
  38. ^ Gifford (2016), p. 306
  39. ^ The Gold Cure at, accessed 15 April 2020
  40. ^ London Love at, accessed 15 April 2020

External links

This page was last edited on 20 January 2022, at 06:21
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