There was one reference to someone named Lillian Collier in Los Angeles being cast in a Charlie Chaplin film, so I suspected that she ended up there. Recently, I ran across what may have been her father's World War 2 draft card - a guy with her father's name (Meyer Lieberman) and statistics (place and date of birth, anyway), matching up to his. There were a lot of people named Meyer Lieberman, so you have to be careful.
His closest contact info was one Mrs. Lillian Gerard. In the 1930 census, Lillian and Franklin Gerard were in L.A. living with Lillian's mother, Natalie Bensonson (very close to "Nellie," the name her mother usually went by, and with her mother's maiden name). On the 1940 census, she's listed as a writer named Lilli Gerard, with a baby son named Frank Gerard Jr.
Looking up Lillian Gerard, an author, broke the case wide open, and I was able to put the pieces together.
|Lillian as Lillian Gerard / Nellise Child|
at work in the early 1940s
When her first novel came out in the early 40s, she was writing the book while living as a housewife - her husband didn't want her to work. This arrangement didn't work out so well for her, and eventually she divorced Frank and moved across the country to have her play produced on Broadway. Thereafter, her son (writing in the afterward of a new ebook of Weep for the Virgins) remembers that she took him to just about every Broadway show between 1948 and 1962! He remembers running lines from her works in progress with people like Irene Castle.
Articles about her from the 1940s onward mention her having worked in a cannery in Los Angeles, as well as in soda fountain, and she spoke to one reporter about her days a a "girl reporter" in Chicago (I've only ever found one of her articles from those days), but none mention her time in the Chicago bohemia scene. Her autobiography on the back of her first novel mentions two Chicago papers, as well as "Sells-Floto's Circus," which may back up the occasional early 1920s mentions of her as a circus performer.
Eventually marrying real estate developer Abner Rosenfeld, she found her way back to Chicago later in life, and was living near Loyola when she passed away in 1981 at the age of 79. Her obituary gives her name was "Nellise Rosenfeld," and she was interred at Shalome Memorial Park. She was still a member of the Dramatists' Guild, the American Jewish Congress, and a couple of Zionist organizations.
She achieved enough note to have a French wikipedia entry that doesn't mention "Collie" or "Collier" as a last name (she was only married to Herbert Collie for a very short time when she was just a teenager, from what I can tell).
So, I'm secure in saying that we've found out what happened to Lillian Collier, but this is just the beginning. Now I can have fun tracking down the works of Nellise Child, and perhaps finding some relatives who might know if she ever spoke about her days in Chicago bohemia....