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Lillie Langtry

Lillie Langtry

Lillie Langtry (born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton) (13 October 1853 - 12 February 1929) was a British actress born on the island of Jersey in 1853 -- hence her nickname, The Jersey Lily. Her father was the Dean of the Isle of Jersey.

Emilie married Irish landowner Edward Langtry in 1874, but did not begin her stage career until several years later, after her husband became bankrupt. She also had a daughter, born in 1881, Jeanne Marie Langtry (she married, in 1902, Sir Ian Malcolm of Poltalloch, had four children, and died in 1964), whose father was definitely not Lillie's husband. The child's actual father was reportedly Lillie Langtry's lover Prince Louis of Battenberg (later 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, 1854-1921), who married Queen Victoria's granddaughter Princess Alice of Hesse and the Rhine in 1884 and became father of Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the last Viceroy of India, and grandfather of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. A recent biography of Langtry suggests that another of her lovers, Arthur Jones, may have been Jeanne Marie's father, though Prince Louis's son Lord Mountbatten always maintained that his father was the one.

Lillie's heyday as a society beauty culminated in her becoming a semi-official mistress to the Prince of Wales, Queen Victoria's son Albert Edward (Bertie), the future king Edward VII. Other lovers included rich Brits Robert Peel and George Baird. Among her friends were the Irish writer Oscar Wilde and the American artist James McNeill Whistler. She was for a time the manager of the Imperial Theatre and also manufactured claret at her 4,200-acre winery in southern California, which she purchased in 1888 and sold in 1906.

In 1887 Lillie became an American citizen and divorced her husband the same year in California. In 1899, she married the much younger Hugo Gerald de Bathe, who would inherit a baronetcy, and became a leading owner in the horse-racing world, before retiring to Monte Carlo.

Lillie Langtry's story was dramatised by London Weekend Television as Lillie, with Francesca Annis in the title role. She was also portrayed on film by Ava Gardner in the 1972 movie The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.

The town of Langtry, Texas, was not named for her, although its most illustrious inhabitant, Judge Roy Bean, was an ardent admirer, naming the saloon where he held court The Jersey Lily. Bean himself spread the rumor about the town's name. He also built an opera house in anticipation of a visit, and Mrs. Langtry appeared there after Bean's death. (The town was named for railroad supervisor George Langtry.)


Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Lillie Langtry Facts

OccupationActress
BirthdayOctober 18, 1853
SignLibra
BirthplaceUnited Kingdom
Date of deathFebruary 12, 1829 (age -25)

Selected Filmography

Not available.