Husband Edmund Lowe

Queer Places:
340 E 4th St, Brooklyn, NY 11218
Lilowe, 718 North Linden Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, USA
Washington Cemetery, 5400 Bay Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11230, Stati Uniti Tashman (October 23, 1896 – March 21, 1934) was an American vaudeville, Broadway, and film actress. She has been romantically linked to Greta Garbo, Estelle Taylor. Tashman was best known for her supporting roles as tongue-in-cheek villainesses and the vindictive "other woman."[1] She made 66 films over the course of her Hollywood career and although she never obtained superstar status, her cinematic performances are described as "sharp, clever and have aged little over the decades."[2]

Born in New York, the youngest child of orthodox Jewish immigrants Morris and Rosie Tashman, Lil was a hellion from the start. The family lived at 340 East 4th Street in Brooklyn, where Morris worked as a tailor. Born in Poland, he moved to Germany around 1877, where he married Rose Cook and had a daughter. He emigrated to the United States in 1879, with Rose and the baby following a couple of years later. Seven more children followed in rapid succession, ending with Lillie. Studio biographies would report she attended Hunter College, but if so, it wasn't for long. To help support the family, young Lillie went on the stage at the age of 17. The next year she was touring with Eddie Cantor and Al Lee in vaudeville; on November 30, 1914, she married Lee (real name Cunningham) in Milwaukee.

Tall, blonde, and slender with fox-like features and a throaty voice,[1] Tashman freelanced as a fashion and artist's model in New York City. By 1914 she was an experienced vaudevillian, appearing in Ziegfeld Follies between 1916 and 1918. In 1921 Tashman made her film debut in Experience, and over the next decade and a half she appeared in numerous silent films. With her husky contralto singing voice she easily navigated the transition to sound film.

Lillian Tashman and Harold Grieve Descriptive: (Beverly Hills) Magrethe Mather (United States, 1885-1952) United States, circa 1927 Photographs Gelatin silver print Image: 9 7/16 × 7 1/4 in. (23.97 × 18.42 cm) Primary support: 9 7/16 × 7 1/4 in. (23.97 × 18.42 cm) Gift of David and Joyce Essex (M.84.276.3)

She separated from Al Lee in 1920, after being linked in the press for several years with Edmund Lowe, the purple-tie-wearing actor who'd become a star on the West Coast stage before moving to Broadway. They'd met in 1918; Lil was appearing in her third edition of the "Follies" and Lowe was at his Broadway peak, having just come off a successful run with Maude Fulton in "The Brat." They'd acknowledge comedian Walter Catlett as the first to introduce them.

Tashman received tremendous press in 1920 for winning first place in the lavish Chu Chin Chow costume ball, held at the Hotel des Artistes and hosted by the Greenwich Village "bohemian colony." Columnists gushed over Lil's slinky, spangled gown and her overall "daring and splendor" at the "all-night and all-morning revel."

Tashman would take her own chance on screenland in 1924. Her parts in Manhandled, A Broadway Butterfly, and the film adaptation of Zoe Akins' Declassés were extensions of the tough gold digger she'd popularized on the stage. She freelanced, appearing in Pretty Ladies at MGM, and with Edmund Lowe in his Ports of Calls at Fox. 

"I don't believe in marriage for actors," Lowe told Marna Tully of Photoplay, in what began as a typical response to the Marriage Question for a gay actor. "In fact, I don't think I believe much in marriage under any circumstances. And yet, I'm going to get married, because I can't live without this woman. Lilyan Tashman is the one woman in the world who is tactful and understanding enough to be the wife of an actor." Tashman concurred: "Eddie and I have known each other for seven years. After this stretch of time I never have a qualm, never think for a minute that I am making a mistake. In fact, I feel sure that out marriage will be a great success. Knowing that my marriage will in no way interfere with the development of my career, I know it will be a great advantage."

On September 21, 1925, Tashman married longtime friend Edmund Lowe. The two became the darlings of Hollywood reporters and were touted in fan magazines as having "the ideal marriage".[1] Tashman was described by reporter Gladys Hall as "the most gleaming, glittering, moderne, hard-surfaced, and distingué woman in all of Hollywood".[4] The couple entertained lavishly at "Lilowe", their Beverly Hills home, and their weekly party invitations were highly sought after. Their guest lists were noticeable for the lack of stuffy, stodgy names. Instead, it was William Haines, George Cukor, Zoe Akins, Edmund Goulding, Anderson Lawler, and Kay Francis who were invited to their swanky, modern, all-red-and-white Beverly Hills home. Her wardrobe cost $1 million, and women around the world clamored for copies of her hats, gowns, and jewelry. Servants were ordered to serve her cats afternoon tea, and for Easter brunch she had her dining room painted dark blue to provide a contrast to her blonde hair. She once painted her Malibu home red and white, asked her guests to wear red and white, and even dyed the toilet paper red and white.[5]

The early George Cukor has a sly impulse to tweak the prevailing culture. That's part of the reason he so adored Zoe Akins, turning to her story, "Girls About Town," for the freewheeling knockout of a picture starring Kay Francis and Lilyan Tashman in 1931. One review called Girls About Town "very gay, very gay," adding, "Naughty, but nice enough to get by Papa Hays and the censors." To Cukor, Tashman would write of her escapades with "Julie" and "Alice," while casually mentioning that Lowe was starting a new picture. She'd refer, third-person, to "the Lowes having a large anniversary party", as if "the Lowes" were a separate entity from "Ed" and "Lil".

Only once did scandal touch the Lowes. In May 1931, a female bit player, Alona Marlowe, sister of actress June Marlowe, alleged that Edmund Lowe invited her and another woman back to his bungalow on the Fox lot. According to a complaint filed by Marlowe, Tashman arrived and attacked, beating, kicking, and scratching her. The row made headlines; Lilyan Tashman denied the whole thing.

In 1932, Tashman entered the hospital in New York City for an appendectomy that is now considered a concealment for abdominal cancer. She left the hospital thin and weak. Although she made five films in her last years, performing with her usual artistry and professionalism, she weakened significantly in the months following her hospitalization and her role in Riptide was trimmed because of her ever-worsening health.[2]

In February 1934, she flew to New York City to film Frankie and Johnny for All Star Productions (released by Republic Pictures) but her condition necessitated a week of rest in Connecticut with Lowe. She resumed work in March, completing her film role on March 8 and then appearing at the Israel Orphan's Home benefit on March 10. When she entered the hospital for surgery on March 16, it was too late for the doctors to help her.[2]

Tashman died of cancer at Doctor's Hospital in New York City on March 21, 1934 at the age of 37.[6] Her funeral was held on March 22 in New York City synagogue Temple Emanu-El with Sophie Tucker, Mary Pickford, Fanny Brice, Cecil Beaton, Jack Benny, and other distinguished celebrities in attendance. Eddie Cantor delivered the eulogy.[2] The burial in Brooklyn's Washington Cemetery[7] attracted 10,000 fans, mourners, and curious onlookers; it became a near riot when people were injured and a gravestone was toppled. Tashman left no will, but the distribution of her $31,000 in cash and $121,000 in furs and jewels provoked contentious discussion among her husband and sisters, Hattie and Jennie. Her last film, Frankie and Johnny, was released posthumously in May 1936 with her role as Nellie Bly cut to a cameo.[2]

My published books:

See my published books