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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Leila Hyams
Leila Hyams photop829.jpg
Hyams in 1929
Born(1905-05-01)May 1, 1905
New York City, U.S.
DiedDecember 4, 1977(1977-12-04) (aged 72)
Occupation
  • vaudevillian
  • stage performer
  • model
  • film actress
Years activeprior to 1924 vaudeville and stage, 1924 – 1936, film
Spouse(s)Phil Berg (1927–1977, her death)

Leila Hyams (May 1, 1905 – December 4, 1977) was an American film and stage actress, model, and vaudevillian, who came from a show business family. Her relatively short film career began in 1924 during the era of silent films and ended in 1936, (although appearing in a 1946 short film). She started out her career as a vaudvillian, stage performer and model, before embarking on a career in film, and although her career in this genre only lasted around twelve years, the blonde blue-eyed ingenue and leading lady appeared in more than 50 film roles and remained a press favourite, with numerous magazine covers.

Early life

She was born in New York City to vaudeville comedy performers John Hyams and Leila (née McIntyre) Hyams.[1] Both parents appeared in films and mother Leila Senior was also a noted stage performer; her parents can later be seen together in several Hollywood films such as in 1939's The Housekeeper's Daughter.

Stage performer

Hyams appeared on stage with her parents while still a child, working in their vaudeville act for five years.[2]

Modelling

As a teenager, she worked as a model and became well known across the United States after appearing in a successful series of newspaper advertisements. This success led her to Hollywood.[citation needed]

Film career

Hyams in 1931
Hyams in 1931

She made her first film in 1924, and with her blonde hair, green eyes, delicate features, and good-natured demeanor, was cast in a string of supporting roles, where she was required to do very little but smile and look pretty. She proved herself capable of handling the small roles she was assigned, and over a period of time, she came to be taken seriously as an actress. By 1928, she was playing starring roles, achieving success in MGM's first talkie release, Alias Jimmy Valentine (1928) opposite William Haines, Lionel Barrymore, and Karl Dane. The following year, she appeared in the popular murder mystery The Thirteenth Chair, a role that offered her the chance to display her dramatic abilities as a murder suspect. At Fox that same year, she appeared in director Allan Dwan's  now lost romantic adventure The Far Call opposite Charles Morton. The quality of her parts continued to improve as the decade turned, including a role as Robert Montgomery's sister in the prison drama The Big House (1930) with Chester Morris and Wallace Beery, for which Hyams once again received positive reviews. She then appeared in Surrender (1931) in which Warner Baxter and Ralph Bellamy desperately competed for her attention.[citation needed]

Hyams in 1932
Hyams in 1932

Although she succeeded in films that required her to play pretty ingenues, and developed into a capable dramatic actress in 1930s crime melodramas, she is perhaps best remembered for two early 1930s horror movies, as the wise-cracking but kind-hearted circus performer in Freaks (1932) and as the heroine in the Bela Lugosi film Island of Lost Souls (1932). Hyams was the original choice to play Jane in Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), but turned it down. The role was played by Maureen O'Sullivan. She also appeared in the once controversial Jean Harlow film Red-Headed Woman (1932), the musical comedy The Big Broadcast (1932) with Bing Crosby, George Burns, and Gracie Allen, and was praised for her comedic performance in Ruggles of Red Gap (1935). In 1935 she made 1,000 Dollars a Minute for Republic and retired soon after.[citation needed]

Personal life

Leila Hyams as Venus with Wallace Ford as Phroso the Clown in Freaks (1932)
Leila Hyams as Venus with Wallace Ford as Phroso the Clown in Freaks (1932)
Hyams with co-star Richard Dix in Yellow Dust (1936)
Hyams with co-star Richard Dix in Yellow Dust (1936)

Hyams married her talent agent Phil Berg in 1927.[2] In 1936, after a 12-year acting career and performing in 50 films, she retired from the motion-picture industry; nevertheless, she remained active in the Hollywood community for the rest of her life. In 1977, after a "brief illness", Hyams died at age 72 at her home in Bel-Air in Los Angeles. She was survived by her husband Phil.[2]

Complete filmography

References

  1. ^ Cullen, Frank; Hackman, Florence; McNeilly, Donald (2007). Vaudeville old & new: an encyclopedia of variety performances in America. Psychology Press. p. 545. ISBN 9780415938532. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Leila Hyams, 72, 'Golden Girl' Of Movies in 20's and 30's, Dies". The New York Times. New York, New York City. December 9, 1977. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 16, 2018.

External links

This page was last edited on 6 August 2021, at 23:50
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