Anita Lhoest (1931-2000) was a well-known Los Angeles swimmer in the 1940s who starred in only one Hollywood feature film.
Anita Lhoset (pronounced Lo-Hest) was born in Los Angeles, c. 1931. Her parents were Belgium immigrants, and her father was a professional cellist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
At seven years of age, she competed in swimming and diving events around Southern California. As a teenager, she trained at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. While there, she won a couple of swimming records and a lot of medals.
Her biggest fan was American songwriter Jimmy McHugh, who sponsored her at the athletic club. McHugh also fell in love with her. When newspapers announced their engagement in 1959, he was 65 and she was 18.
The couple’s age gap seemed incredulous. McHugh‘s ex-wife, Bessie, told a UP reporter that the wedding announcement was probably a publicity stunt. “He hasn’t got that kind of money,” Bessie told the press. “Of course, you never can tell about these things, but I wouldn’t believe it until it happens.”
Wedding bells never rang. After the summer passed without a firm wedding date, Lhoest ended her engagement to McHugh in August of 1949.
Around the time of their breakup, Columbia Pictures signed Lhoest to a movie contract. Producer Sam Katzman then cast her in Captive Girl (1950) alongside two Olympic medal winning swimmers, Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe.
Captive Girl became her only feature film appearance. She attended USC and continued her music and swimming training.
In 1953, she married a man named Simon De Soto. Her name then disappeared from the news. According to genealogical records, she married at least two more times. She later played cello with the Los Angeles Women’s Symphony Orchestra.
According to author Patrick McGilligan, Lhoest had an ongoing affair with Clint Eastwood in the late 1950s and 1960s. McGilligan wrote that she became pregnant, but had an abortion without the actor’s knowledge. (Patrick McGilligan, Clint: The Life and Legend)
In 2000, Anita Lhoest died of pancreatic cancer in Hermosa Beach.
Anita Lhoest‘s address in the 1940s was 2748 Hollyridge Dr.