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Lillian Roth

While Lillian Roth’s career as an actress and musician was derailed by her alcoholism and mental illness, the painful story of her life made her autobiography an international bestseller. Roth’s mother pressed Roth and her sister Ann into a vaudeville sister act for several years before Roth landed a part in the risqué Shubert show Artists and Models at fourteen. By seventeen, she was in Ziegfield’s Midnight Follies. She left for Hollywood, performing in some of the earliest follies, including the Marx Brothers’ Animal Crackers. In the 1940s, she lost a fortune and divorced four husbands, finally checking herself into a mental institution in 1945 and joining Alcoholics Anonymous in 1947. In 1953, she told her story on This Is Your Life, and the positive response led her to write the bestselling autobiography I’ll Cry Tomorrow that became a 1955 film, leading to a career comeback for Roth in nightclubs and on stage.

More on: Acting, Film, Theater, Memoirs
Lillian Roth, 1929
Full image
Publicity photograph of actress Lillian Roth in 1929.
Date of Birth
December 13, 1910
Place of Birth
Boston, Massachusetts
Date of Death
May 5, 1980

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Lillian Roth." (Viewed on January 17, 2018) <>.


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