1896 - 1934

Lilyan Tashman was born in Brooklyn, NY on October 23, 1896. The youngest of ten, Tashman earned money as a model before seeking a career in vaudeville. She was a seasoned performer by the time she appeared in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1916. Despite widespread talk of her lesbian affairs, in 1914 Tashman married vaudevillian Al Lee – a union which lasted only until 1921. In 1922 Tashman moved to Hollywood where the sleek blonde found steady work in silent films. In 1925 she entered a “lavender marriage” with her best friend, actor Edmund Lowe. The two entertained extravagantly at their estate, Lilowe, and became the darlings of the tabloids. The sophisticated Tashman was considered the best dressed woman in Hollywood with a wardrobe estimated to be worth $1,000,000. A deep and clear speaking voice assured her smooth transition into talkies. Though she never achieved ‘A List’ status, Tashman consistently provided a lively and welcome screen presence, often playing a wisecracking sidekick or villainess. Some of her most popular films include “Millie”, “Girls About Town”, “Riptide”, “Bulldog Drummond”, “The Wiser Sex”, “Murder by the Clock”, “Manhandled”, and “New York Nights”. In 1928, Tashman began a relationship with the legendary Greta Garbo, but after four years Garbo grew tired of Tashman’s jealousy and ended the affair – leaving Tashman devastated. In 1932 she entered a New York hospital for a supposed appendectomy; though today it is believed to have been an attempt to conceal abdominal cancer. Although she made five films in her last years, Tashman had grown considerably weaker. In February 1934, she flew to New York to film “Frankie and Johnny” but was so drained she required a break from filming. After completing photography for her role on March 8, she took time to appear at the Israel Orphan's Home benefit on March 10. Shortly thereafter she re-entered the hospital for further surgery but it was too late. She died of abdominal cancer at age 37 on March 21, 1934. Her funeral was held on March 22 at Temple Emanu-El in NY with many celebrities in attendance. Her burial in Washington Cemetery attracted over 10,000 fans.


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Lesbian

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White Jewish

Faith Construct Judaic

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Interwar Period (1918-1939) Jazz Age (1910-1940)

Field(s) of Contribution




Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell