Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bert Lahr and Leila Hyams

Who died on this date:

On December 4, 1967, actor Bert Lahr died. He was born Irving Lahrheim on August 13, 1895 in New York City. He is best remembered for his roles as the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz (1939). In 1927 he debuted on Broadway and played to packed houses, performing classic routines. Lahr made his feature film debut in 1931's Flying High but aside from The Wizard of Oz (1939), his movie career was limited and he made occasionally appearances on television. He died on December 4, 1967 from cancer and was buried at the Union Field Cemetery in Ridgewood, New York.

On December 4, 1977, actress Leila Hyams died. She was born on May 1, 1905 in New York City. Her relatively short film career began in silent films, and ended in the mid 1930s. She made her first film in 1924, and with her blonde hair, delicate features, and good natured demeanor, was cast in a string of supporting roles, where she was required to do very little but smile and look pretty. She proved herself capable of handling the small roles she was assigned, and over a period of time she came to be taken seriously as an actress. By 1928 she was playing starring roles, achieving success in Alias Jimmy Valentine (1928) and The Thirteenth Chair (1929). The quality of her parts continued to improve as the decade turned, including a role in The Big House (1930), Surrender (1931), Freaks (1932), Island of Lost Souls (1933) and Red Headed Woman (1932), The Big Broadcast (1932) and Ruggles of Red Gap (1935). After ten years and fifty films, Hyams retired from acting in 1936, but remained part of the Hollywood community for the rest of her life. She died on December 4, 1977 in Bel Air, California. Her remains were cremated and scattered.

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