Lucille LeSueur's parents separated before she was born. By age 16 she had known three fathers, one of whom (a vaudeville theater manager) had given her the name Billie Cassin. By 1915 she and her mother lived in Kansas City and Billie worked in a laundry and also as a menial to pay school tuition. Winning an amateur dance contest in 1923 led to chorus work in Chicago, Detroit and New York. On New Year's Day of 1925 she left for Hollywood.