Billie Dove (Bertha Bohny)

Billie Dove

Billie Dove (May 14, 1903 – December 31, 1997) was an American actress. Billie Dove was born Bertha Bohny in 1903 to Charles and Bertha (née Kagl) Bohny, Swiss immigrants. As a teen, she worked as a model to help support her family and was hired as a teenager by Florenz Ziegfeld to appear in his Ziegfeld Follies Revue. She legally changed her name to Lillian Bohny in the early 1920s and moved to Hollywood, where she began appearing in silent films. She soon became one of the most popular actresses of the 1920s, appearing in Douglas Fairbanks’ smash hit Technicolor film The Black Pirate (1926), as Rodeo West in The Painted Angel (1929), and was dubbed The American Beauty (1927), the title of one of her films. She married the director of her seventh film, Irvin Willat, in 1923. The two divorced in 1929. Billie Dove had a huge legion of male fans, one of her most persistent being Howard Hughes. She had a three-year romance with Hughes and was engaged to marry him, but she ended the relationship without ever giving cause. Hughes cast her as a comedian in his film Cock of the Air (1932). She also appeared in his movie The Age for Love (1931). Following her last film Blondie of the Follies (1932), Dove retired from the screen to be with her family. She next married wealthy oil executive Robert Alan Kenaston in 1933, a marriage that lasted for 37 years until his death in 1970. The couple had a son, Robert Alan Kenaston, Jr., who married actress Claire Kelly in 1961-1963 and died in 1995 from cancer, and an adopted daughter, Gail. She later had a brief third marriage to architect John Miller, which ended in divorce in the 1970s. Aside from a brief cameo in Diamond Head (1963), Billie Dove never returned to the movies. She spent her retirement years in Rancho Mirage before moving into the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California where she died of pneumonia in 1997, aged 94. She is interred in the Freedom Mausoleum, at Forest Lawn Glendale.

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  • May, 14, 1903
  • USA
  • New York, New York


  • December, 31, 1997
  • USA
  • Woodland Hills, California

Cause of Death

  • pneumonia


  • Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)
  • Glendale, California
  • USA

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