In 1926 she returned to New
York city to perform. While there, she starred in her first film, Exit
Smiling, opposite fellow Canadian Jack Pickford, the scandal-tarred
younger brother of Mary Pickford. From then until the approach of World
War II, Lillie repeatedly crisscrossed the Atlantic to perform on both
Lillie is associated particularly with
the works of Noel Coward, though Cole Porter also wrote songs for her.
She made few appearances on film, appearing in a cameo role as a
revivalist in Around the World in Eighty Days and as Mrs. Meers
in Thoroughly Modern Millie. She won a Tony Award in 1953 for her
revue An Evening With Beatrice Lillie and made her final stage
appearance in High Spirits, the musical version of Coward's Blithe
Spirit. After seeing An Evening with Beatrice Lillie, British
critic Ronald Barker wrote, "Other generations may have their
Mistinguett and their Marie Lloyd. We have our Beatrice Lillie and
seldom have we seen such a display of perfect talent."
She married, on January 20, 1920, at the
church of St. Paul, Drayton Bassett, Fazely, near Tamworth in
Staffordshire to Sir Robert Peel, 5th Baronet, and became known as Lady
Peel. She eventually separated from her husband (but never divorced
him) until he died in 1934. Their only child, Sir Robert Peel, 6th
Baronet, was killed in action aboard the HMS Tenedos in Colombo Harbour
in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1942.
In 1948, she met the singer/actor, John
Philip Huck, a gentleman roughly 28 years her junior who became her
friend and companion.
She retired from the stage due to
Alzheimer's disease and passed away on January 20, 1989, which was also
the date of her wedding anniversary, at Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire,
England, at the age of 94. John Philip Huck died of a heart attack 31
hours later, and is interred next to her in a cemetery near Peel Fold,
Beatrice Lillie has a star on the
Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1953 : Special Award - An
Evening With Beatrice Lillie (winner)
1958 : Best
Leading Actress in a Musical - Ziegfeld Follies of 1957 (nominee)
1964 : Best
Leading Actress in a Musical - High
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