Lillian Kolker ~ The Penniless Showgirl

 Lillian Kolker

Lillian Kolker was a Ziegfeld Follies showgirl who committed suicide in 1935.

She was born Lillian Isabella Carroll in Boston, Massachusetts in 1882. Lillian moved to New York City and started working as a showgirl. The young beauty had ash blonde hair, blue eyes, and a creamy complexion. On May 17, 1906 she married thirty-six year old actor Henry Kolker. She continued to pursue her career and danced in the chorus of the Ziegfeld Follies. Unfortunately she and Henry had a tumultuous marriage and he cheated on her many times. In 1922 Lillian filed for divorce claiming he was having an affair with actress Anna Q. Nilsson. Henry denied the affair and said his wife was “unreasonably jealous, suspicious and nagging.” The divorce was granted in 1926 and he was ordered to pay her $60 a week in alimony. Henry refused to pay her any money.

Lillian Kolker Anna Q. Nilsson Henry Kolker

By the early 1930s she was bankrupt and suffering from numerous health problems After pawning most of her valuable possessions she started working as a housekeeper. Lillian decided to sue Henry for the back alimony he owed. She fell into a deep depression and told her friends "the end is near", On January 14, 1935 she went to Bath beach in Brooklyn where she attempted to jump into the freezing cold water several times. Then she drank a bottle of whiskey and wrapped herself in her mink coat, the only luxury item she still owned. During the night she passed out in the sand and tragically froze to death from exposure. The police ruled it was a suicide. Lillian was only fifty-two years old. She was buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. A few months after her death a Judge ruled that Henry had to pay $40,000 back alimony to Lillian's mother.

Linda Kolker SuicideLillian Kolker Suicide