Lilyan Chauvan to me I remembered well along with many other horror fans playing the incredibly ruthless and cold blooded Mother Superior in the 1984 cult classic slasher flick 'Silent Night Deadly Night'. The movie was released shortly after 'A Nightmare On Elm Street'. Yes the movie that upset many parents after spotting the trailer trying to prevent the film from being released in theatre's and starting controversy but none of them succeeded as it became a cult classic. Of course she had the lead role in the film as the nasty Mother Superior at an orphanage brainwashing and abusing a child named Billy who was gonna grow up to portray a killer wearing a Santa uniform since he saw his parents killed by one. She tells him about punishment and other situations including fornicating is naughty as Billy gets the wrong idea big time. Then on Christmas Eve he returns to the orphanage to plan to do away with her for the cruel things that she did to him but decides to go on a killing spree in the neighborhood.
Lilyan was terrific in her role and the best out of the whole cast in which you can tell she studied this role greatly and truly intimidating she was. Yet she didn't repirse her role in the sequel which was a shame and was replaced by Jean Miller who was nowhere as good. Yet was seen in the flashback archives of the film.
Lilyan was no spring chicken though as her acting career started back in 1950 (Discovered by actress Judith Anderson) as a stage actress and also appeared by having minor roles in TV and film along with many musicals. She often played strict but sometimes loving types of characters during her acting career.
Working in broadcasting in France in her early years, she moved to New York on her 21st birthday and became a US citizen. She studied with Uta Hagen and at the Actors Studio in New York. Chauvin also attended the Berlitz school of Languages and took in American movies nearly every day to improve her English.
She was also a Technical Advisor/Dialogue Coach at MGM and worked as a Dialogue Supervisor and Drama coach at Warner Brothers. She taught French to many actors including Lauren Hutton and Richard Gere in 'American Gigolo'. She had many acting students who would later on go far in the entertainment industry.
Her first taste of a somewhat horror gig was in a TV episode of 'Thriller' as Mrs. Barrister in "Man in the Cage" back in 1961.
Her first horror film gig was in 'Bloodlust' during that same year which marked the directorial debut of Ralph Brooke about a crazed hunter kidnaps people and turns them loose on his private estate, where he hunts them for sport. Lilyan plays a supporting role in this one as a wife of Dr. Albert Balleau (Wilton Graff) who comes to the aid of a teenage couple named Johnny (Robert Reed) and Betty Scott (June Kenney) whom were on a boat with their friends landing on an island only to find out that Dr. Balleu is a psychtoic killer but Chauvin's character Sandra tries to escape from her husband's evil deeds in which she is in love with another person named Dean (Walter Brooke) but end up as part of the doctor’s collection of stuffed trophies.
Lilyan carried on acting in film and television over the 30 years of her career being one of the busiest character actresses in Hollywood appearing in over forty films and numerous appearances on television. Her non horror films included 'Private Benjamin', 'Funny Lady' (Starring Barbara Streisand), 'Predator 2', 'No Place to Hide', 'Universal Solider' (as Jean-Claude Van Damme's mother) and most recently co-starred with Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio in Steven Spielberg's 'Catch Me If You Can'.
Her television guest roles included 'Combat!', 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.', 'Disneyland', 'Matt Lincoln', 'Mannix', 'Fantasy Island', 'Lou Grant', 'Darkroom', 'Diff'rent Strokes' and a recurring guest role on 'Falcon Crest'
She still continued to act in the odd horror film like her small role in the 1971 occult-murder mystery flick 'Memphisto Waltz' as a woman writer which is a story of a music journalist named Myles Clarkson (Alan Alda) whose career as a piano player came to an end when his debut concert received undeservedly scathing reviews. The film also starred Jaqueline Bisset as his wife.
Due to her fame in 'Silent Night Deadly Night' it looked like that she had a supporting role in the direct-to-video 1994 film 'Pumpkinhead 2: Bloodwings' as a backwoods witch named Miss Osie who was crossed by a bunch of teenage delinquents in which they do a prank on her in which she revives a mentally challenged orphan whom was badly tormented by bullies into Pumpkinhead who was killed years before as she does a chant to revive him and then gets burned half to death and is sent to a hospital while Pumpkinhead goes on a killing spree seeking revenge on the people who picked on him when he was a human being. Chauvin's character seems to have a secret bondoge to the orphan which is explained in the story before she dies in the hospital. The film was directed by horror icon Jeff Burr and had many cameos by horror film actors like Linnea Quigley (Who also had a special appearance in 'Silent Night Deadly Night'), R.A. Mihailoff and Kane Hodder. The film starred Andrew Robinson, Ami Dolenz and Soleil Moon Frye.
To top it all off Lilyan contributed a role in a 1995 horror video game flick titled 'Phantasmagoria' as a character named Ethel which is available on CD's for computer games nationwide.
Nonetheless horror fans will always remember her for her leading role as the wicked Mother Superior in 'Silent Night Deadly Night' in which she was the best in the whole cast and even was interviewed on the 2006 documentary 'Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of a Slasher Film' on her feelings of when theatre's were picketed due to the controversy on the film.
Sadly her life was taken at the age of 82 on June 26, 2008 in Studio City, Los Angeles Conunty, California due to breast cancer in which she has battled it for four decades. There was a video short documentary on her titled 'The Celebration of Life'.