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Leila Hyams
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Leila Hyams

Leila Hyams (May 1, 1905 – December 4, 1977) was an American film actress. Born in New York, New York to vaudeville comedy performers John Hyams and Leila McIntyre, Hyams appeared on-stage with her parents while still a child. As a teenager she worked as a model and become well known across the United States after appearing in a successful series of newspaper advertisements. This success led her to Hollywood. She made her first film in 1924, and with her blonde hair, delicate features, and good natured demeanour, 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). The following year she appeared in the popular murder mystery The Thirteenth Chair, a role that offered her the chance to display her dramatic abilities as a murder suspect.

As Robert Montgomery's sister in the Chester Morris prison drama The Big House (1930), Hyams once again received positive reviews and the quality of her parts continued to improve.

Although she succeeded in films that required her to play pretty ingenues, and developed into a capable dramatic actress in 1930s crime melodramas, she is perhaps best remembered for two early 1930s horror movies, as the wise-cracking but kind hearted circus performer in Freaks (1932), and as the heroine in Island of Lost Souls (1933).

She also appeared in the controversial Jean Harlow film Red-Headed Woman (1932), the musical comedy The Big Broadcast (1932) with Bing Crosby, George Burns and Gracie Allen, and was widely praised for her comedic performance in 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 was married to the agent Phil Berg from 1927 until her death in Bel Air, California.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2004.

Leila Hyams Facts

BirthdayMay 1, 1905
BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA
Date of deathDecember 4, 1977 (age 72)
Height5' 4½" (1m64)  How tall is Leila Hyams compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Not available.