Li was born Qian Zhenzhen in Beijing, 1915. In 1927 she moved to Shanghai, where her father encouraged her to join the China National Song & Dance Troupe, later renamed Bright Moon Song and Dance Troupe. Li Jinhui, later known as the Father of Chinese popular music, was the conductor of the troupe and adopted her as his god-daughter, and she adopted his surname.
The troupe were very popular in 1920s Shanghai. Li Lili, Wang Renmei, Xue Lingxian and Hu Jia were known as the Four Divas. The troupe joined the Lianhua Film Company in 1931, and disbanded the troupe the next year. Li became an actress, and starred in Sun Yu's 1932 Loving Blood of the Volcano. Set in the South Seas, this allowed Li to play to her strengths with a lot of dancing. She and Wang Renmei then acted together in Poetry Written on the Banana Leaf.
Sun Yu wrote Queen of Sports and The Highway for her to star in, and she won audiences with her fashionable and energetic image, gaining the nickname "Sweet Sister". From 1935 to 1937 she starred in eight more films with the Linhua Film Company.
After war with Japan broke out in 1937, she joined the Film Studio of China in Chongqing. There she met and married Luo Jingyu, a manager. In 1939 she filmed Cai Chusheng's Orphan Island Paradise in Hong Kong; it was another hit. Back in Chongqing, she starred in another hit film Storm on the Border, for which she was highly praised.
Li travelled to the United States in 1946, studying acting at Catholic University in Washington, language and singing in New York, and make-up at the University of California. She also observed filmmaking at Hollywood.
In 1991, she was given the "Special Honour Award" by the Chinese Academy of Motion Picture Arts.
By the end of her life, Li Lili was the last living Chinese movie star from the silent era. She died of a heart attack in Xuanwu Hospital, Beijing on August 7, 2005, aged 90.
- 1926 A Hero Hidden in Yanshan Mountain
- 1932 Loving Blood of the Volcano
- 1932 Poetry Written on the Banana Leaf
- 1933 Little Toys
- 1933 Daybreak
- 1934 Queen of Sports
- 1934 The Big Road (The Highway)
- 1935 An Abandoned Woman
- 1935 National Customs
- 1936 Bloodshed on Wolf Mountain
- 1936 Return to Nature
- 1937 Vistas of Art 3: Song & Dance Class
- 1937 So Busy
- 1937 The Lost Pearl
- 1937 Symphony of Lianhua 6: Ghost
- 1939 Orphan Island Paradise
- 1942 Storm on the Border
- 1954 Circumvent Hua Mountain
- 1963 Fen River Flows On
- Li Lili at the Chinese Movie Database
- Li Lili at China's Movie Database
- Li Lili at HKMania.com Template:Fr icon, homage with photographsde:Li Lili