Movie Bayou

Lita Milan: The Unusual Life Of A Hollywood Actress Who Is Now Living In Exile

Beginning in 1954, Lita Milan appeared in dozens of television series and starred in a number of hit films. Although she was a beautiful and talented woman, who was often compared to Kim Novak and Zsa Zsa Gabor, Milan walked away from her acting career in 1959 and has been living in exile for nearly 60 years.

Iris Maria Lia Menshall was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933. The child of a homemaker and a salesman, Iris had a keen interest in the entertainment industry and studied dance in her early years. As stated in her IMDB biography, Iris moved to Nevada after graduating from high school, changed her name to Lita Milan, and was eventually hired to work as a Las Vegas showgirl.

In her spare time, Lita worked as a model and subsequently appeared in several magazines — including Night & Day and Photo. However, she aspired to move to Hollywood, California, where she hoped to pursue her dream of becoming an actress.

Lita Milan got her big break in 1954, when she was cast as Elena Montero in the television series The Lone Wolf. Over the next five years, she appeared in a number of other television series, including Public Defender, It’s a Great Life, Damon Runyon Theater, and The Count of Monte Cristo. The actress also had recurring roles on The Bob Cummings Show, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The People’s Choice, and The Adventures of Hiram Holliday.

Milan made her big screen debut in 1955 when she was cast as Elena in The Violent Men. She also appeared in The Toughest Man Alive, Desert Sands, Bayou, Naked in the Sun, The Left-Handed Gun, and Girls on the Loose.

Dubbed the “Wampas Baby Star,” Lita worked alongside several established actors, including Paul Newman, and was rumored to have dated Steve Cochran, Ralph Meeker, and Steve McQueen.

Between 1954 and 1959, Lita Milan became well-known as a rising star — who had the talent and looks rivaling many of her contemporaries. However, her short career came to an abrupt halt when she married the son of Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo.

Lita Milan and Ramfis Trujillo immediately moved to the Caribbean, so they could be closer to Trujillo’s family. However, when Rafael Trujillo was assassinated in 1961, the couple fled to Madrid, Spain.

As reported by Express, Ramfis inherited enough money for he and his wife to have a comfortable life in Spain. Unfortunately, Ramis was killed in a car accident in 1969.

In the years following her husband’s death, Lita Milan reportedly spent the remainder of her husband’s fortune and amassed “immense” debts. In an interview with Express, the former actress admitted she was “going through a very painful time” and often made extravagant purchases as “a way to alleviate sadness.”

In addition to losing her father-in-law and her husband, Lita lost her father in the late 1970s — when he was reportedly killed during an attempted robbery.

In recent years, Milan confessed that marrying Ramfis and sacrificing her career was a “mistake” because she believes she “could have gone much further as an actress.” Although she admitted keeping a number of her photos, the former actress said she threw away a vast majority of her newspaper clippings.

Lita Milan reportedly still lives in Madrid. However, she is rarely seen in public and has not given an interview since the early 2000s. According to some reports, she is still haunted by the details 0f her father-in-law’s dictatorship and subsequent death and the deaths of her husband and her own father. Although she admittedly reminisces about her acting career, Milan has not appeared in a television program or film since 1959.

[Image by Muratart/Shutterstock]