Lillian Lawrence
Lawrence in 1899
Born(1868-02-17)February 17, 1868
DiedMay 7, 1926(1926-05-07) (aged 58)
Resting placeHollywood Forever Cemetery
ChildrenEthel Grey Terry

Lillian Lawrence (February 17, 1868 – May 7, 1926) was an American theatre and silent film actress.[1] Her daughter Ethel Grey Terry was also an actress.


Lawrence was born in either Alexandria, Virginia[2] or Alexander, West Virginia[3] but moved to San Francisco at the age of two. She made her stage debut there as a 13-year-old girl as a chess piece in the operetta The Royal Middy. Following that, she sang opera for the California Theatre for three years. At age 20, she joined a touring company, followed by a role in The Two Orphans. Afterwards, she joined a repertory theatre in Oakland.[4]

In 1882 at the age of 14, she gave birth to her daughter Ethel, but Lawrence remained unmarried.[3]

In 1892, she moved to New York City and then back to Dayton, Ohio the next year. She then won the lead role in a production of The Two Orphans with Kate Claxton. Lawrence returned to New York, followed by a position with the National Theatre Stock Company in Washington, D.C., then had Shakespearean roles with Thomas W. Keene.[5]

In 1897, she joined the Castle Square Stock Company, another repertory theatre. As stock theatres often put on new plays on a weekly basis, by summer 1897, she had taken on over 300 operatic and 500 dramatic roles over the course of her career.[4] She spent six years with the company and was known as the company's "Leading Lady". Her popularity was such that when she temporarily left the group in 1901 on a 16-month sabbatical, she received a rousing ovation and tribute.[6]

Lawrence returned to San Francisco in 1904, joining the repertory at the Alcazar Theatre and becoming immediately popular.[7] After a short period in Portland, Oregon, she returned to the East Coast with the Orpheum Dramatic Stock Theatre at the Chestnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia,[8] and the Harry Davis Stock Players at the Grand Theatre in Pittsburgh.[9] She also returned to Boston to play with John Craig Stock Company at the Globe Theatre, Boston,[10] made special appearances with the Castle Square Company,[11] and appeared in Broadway plays as well.

She joined Ethel in Los Angeles in 1919 and appeared in both films and theatre while there. Lawrence died of heart disease in 1926 at her daughter's home in Beverly Hills. Her ashes are interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.[12]

Partial filmography


  1. ^ Kear, Lynn; Rossman, John (2006). Kay Francis: A Passionate Life And Career. McFarland. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7864-5499-0.
  2. ^ Lawrence, Lillian (1899). Who Hath Not Sinned?. Hub Publishing Company. p. 5.
  3. ^ a b "Lillian Lawrence Buried". The New York Times. May 11, 1926.
  4. ^ a b "Miss Lillian Lawrence". The Opera Glass. 4 (8). August 1897.
  5. ^ Strang, Lewis Clinton (1899). Famous actresses of the day in America. L.C. Page and Company. p. 232. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  6. ^ French, Charles Elwell (1903). Six Years of Drama at the Castle Square Theatre. C.E. French. pp. 12–18.
  7. ^ Wells, William Bittle; Pease, Lute (October 1904). "The Stage". The Pacific Monthly. 14: 393.
  8. ^ "Lillian Lawrence". New York Public Library. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  9. ^ "Lillian Lawrence Gets a Deluge of Flowers". Pittsburgh Press. June 10, 1911. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  10. ^ "Music and Drama". Boston Evening Transcript. July 19, 1906. p. 13. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  11. ^ "Plays of the Week". Boston Evening Transcript. September 5, 1908. p. 7. Retrieved February 13, 2013.
  12. ^ Ellenberger, Allan. "Lillian Lawrence". Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Retrieved February 13, 2013.