Lillian Bond: Pre-Code British Bombshell

Lillian Bond (1908-1991) was a London chorine who made good in memorable parts on stage and screen in the States, usually as sexpots and “other women”.

Educated at Brompton Oratory School, Bond made her debut in the pantomime Dick Whittington when she was only 14. This was followed by a stint in the chorus of the revue Picadilly Revels.

Then she came to New York, where her first Broadway show was Earl Carroll’s Vanities of 1928. 1929 was a big year for her: Bond had a featured part in the musical Fioretta, then made her first movie No More Children, followed by a great role in the Broadway comedy Stepping Out (she later played the same part in the 1931 film version), topped by another movie, the western Sagebrush Politics. For the next half-decade she would shuttle back and forth between Broadway and Hollywood almost annually. In 1930 she was in the New York musical Luana, followed by a short comedy film with the provocative pre-code title In Again Out Again. In 1931 she was in seven films, some of them westerns, some pre-code melodramas and comedies. Her best known film from this year was the remake of Cecil B. DemIlle’s The Squaw Man. Through it all, she still managed to get back to Broadway to appear in the short-lived musical Free for All.  

1932 was her next breakthrough year in Hollywood: 10 films including a part in the ensemble of the James Whale classic The Old Dark House, the “other woman” in Joe E Brown’s Fireman, Save My Child, and a good part in the early Cary Grant picture Hot Saturday. That year she was also elected to the penultimate crop of WAMPAS Baby Stars. In 1933, her 7 films included Hot Pepper and Pick-Up, and she appeared in the Broadway show Three and One. 

My instinct is that the implementation of the Hayes Production Code hindered Bond’s career shortly after this. She appeared in but three films in 1934. 1935 she played in the short-lived Broadway show Little Shot and did two more films, her last for a while. That year she married a stock broker and remained out of the limelight for awhile.

Three years later, she returned, fifth billed, in the comedy The Blonde Cheat (1938). Her career started moving again, although not at the pace or promise of the early ’30s. Among her many additional roles, she had a small part in The Women (1939), the plum role of Lillie Langtry in The Westerner (1940), and brief turns in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) and The Jolson Story (1946). She returned to Broadway one last time in All Men Are Alike (1941). In the ’50s she acted in television dramas to supplant her extra roles in films. Her last film was Pirates of Tripoli (1955). Her last TV performance was on the show The Californians in 1958. Lillian Bond retired from acting thereafter and remarried in 1961.