Lilyan Tashman, original portrait, Underwood & Underwood, Washington DC, c.1923.
Lilyan Tashman was born in Brooklyn in 1896, began her career in vaudeville, and reached Broadway in 1913 in the chorus of Her Little Highness starring the Hungarian musical-comedy sensation Mitzi Hajos, and featuring the young Mae Murray. She appeared in two editions of the Ziegfeld Follies, 1916 and 1917, also in the David Belasco production of the comedy, The Gold-Diggers, in support of (and understudy for) star Ina Claire for two seasons, 1919-1921, as well as in the hit farce, Barnum Was Right in 1923. During this period, she also appeared in several supporting roles in film comedies, including Mabel Normand’s Head Over Heels, released in 1922.
Moving to California in 1924, she quickly found work in motion pictures and appeared in nearly 50 features for a variety of studios in the next six years, including Pretty Ladies (Metro-Goldwyn, 1925, dir. Monta Bell), So This is Paris (Warner Brothers, 1926, dir. Ernst Lubitsch), and the Norma Talmadge Camille (Schenck-Talmadge, 1926). Tashman made the transition to sound with Bulldog Drummond (Goldwyn,1929) and The Trial of Mary Dugan (MGM, 1929), Norma Shearer’s first sound film. In 1931 she signed with Paramount, making five features that year, including Girls About Town. Her last film released during her life was MGM’s Riptide (1934) with Norma Shearer. Tashman died of cancer in March 1934 at age 37. Her funeral in Brooklyn was reportedly attended by more than 10,000 mourners and fans.