Alexis Smith

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For the American artist, see Alexis Smith (artist).
Alexis Smith
Eiganotomo-2-1951-page26.jpg
Smith in 1951
Born Gladys Smith
(1921-06-08)June 8, 1921
Penticton, British Columbia
Died June 9, 1993(1993-06-09) (aged 72)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1940—1993
Spouse(s) Craig Stevens (1944–1993; her death)

Alexis Smith (June 8, 1921 – June 9, 1993) was a Canadian-born stage, film, and television actress. She appeared in several major Hollywood movies in the 1940s and had a notable career on Broadway in the 1970s, winning a Tony Award in 1972.

Early life[edit]

1946 photo
Split Second (1953)

Born Gladys Smith in Penticton, British Columbia, she first began acting as a teen, in summer stock in Canada before moving with her family to the United States. She was raised in Los Angeles.

Acting career[edit]

Film career[edit]

After being discovered by a talent scout while attending college, Smith was signed to a contract by Warner Bros.[1] Her earliest film roles were uncredited bit parts, and it took several years for her career to gain momentum. Her first credited role was in the feature film Dive Bomber (1941), playing the female lead opposite Errol Flynn. Her appearance in The Constant Nymph (1943) was well received and led to bigger parts.[2]

During the 1940s, Smith appeared alongside some of the most popular male stars of the day, including Errol Flynn in Gentleman Jim (1942), and San Antonio (1945) (in which she sang a special version of the popular ballad "Some Sunday Morning"), Fredric March in The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944), Humphrey Bogart in Conflict (1945) and The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947), Cary Grant in a sanitized, fictionalized version of the life of Cole and Linda Porter in Night and Day (1946), and Bing Crosby in Here Comes the Groom (1951), her favorite role.[3]

Among Smith's other films are Rhapsody In Blue (1945), Of Human Bondage (1946), and The Young Philadelphians (1959). She also appeared on the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Radio (NBC) broadcast on 25 January 1952.[3]

Stage career[edit]

While Smith was under contract at Warner Bros., she met fellow actor Craig Stevens; they wed in 1944. In later years, Smith toured in several stage hits including the 1955 National company of Plain and Fancy, co-starring with her husband in Jean Kerr's Mary, Mary and Cactus Flower.

Smith appeared on the cover of the May 3, 1971, issue of Time as the result of the critical acclaim for her singing and dancing role in Hal Prince's Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies, which marked her long-awaited Broadway debut. In 1972, she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance.[3]

Her stage career continued through the 1970s, with appearances in the 1973 all-star revival of The Women (1973), the short-lived re-working of William Inge's drama Picnic, re-titled Summer Brave (1975), and the ill-fated musical Platinum (1978), which earned Smith another Tony nomination for her performance but closed after a brief run. She then toured for more than a year as the madam in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, including a seven-month run in Los Angeles.

Later work[edit]

Smith returned to the big screen with star billing at the age of 54 in Jacqueline Susann's Once Is Not Enough (1975) opposite Kirk Douglas, followed by The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane with Martin Sheen and Jodie Foster the following year and Casey's Shadow with Walter Matthau in 1978.[3]

Smith had a recurring role on the television series Dallas as Clayton Farlow's sister Lady Jessica Montford in 1984, and again in 1990. She also starred in the short-lived 1988 series Hothouse, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for her guest appearance on Cheers in 1990.[3]

Death[edit]

Smith died of brain cancer in Los Angeles in 1993 on the day after her 72nd birthday. She had no children and her sole survivor was her husband of 49 years, actor Craig Stevens. Smith's final film, The Age of Innocence (1993), was released shortly after her death. Her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered over the Pacific.[4]

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1940 Alice in Movieland Guest at Carlo's Uncredited
Lady with Red Hair Girl at Wedding Uncredited
She Couldn't Say No Phone Gossip #4 Uncredited
1941 Flight from Destiny Girl Uncredited
The Great Mr. Nobody Woman in office Uncredited
Here Comes Happiness Blonde Uncredited
Affectionately Yours Bridesmaid Uncredited
Singapore Woman Miss Oswald Uncredited
Three Sons o' Guns Actress Uncredited
Passage from Hong Kong Nightclub dancer Uncredited
The Smiling Ghost Elinor Bentley
Steel Against the Sky Helen Powers
Dive Bomber Mrs. Linda Fisher 1 of 4 with Errol Flynn
1942 Gentleman Jim Victoria Ware 2 of 4 with Errol Flynn
1943 The Constant Nymph Florence Creighton
Thank Your Lucky Stars As Herself
1944 The Adventures of Mark Twain Olivia Langdon Clemens With Frederick March
The Doughgirls Nan Curtiss Dillon
1945 The Horn Blows at Midnight Elizabeth With Jack Benny
San Antonio Jeanne Star 3 of 4 with Errol Flynn
Conflict Evelyn Turner 1 of 2 with Humphrey Bogart
Rhapsody in Blue Christine Gilbert
1946 One More Tomorrow Cecelia Henry
Night and Day Linda Lee Porter With Cary Grant
Of Human Bondage Nora Nesbitt
1947 Stallion Road Rory Teller With Ronald Reagan
The Two Mrs. Carrolls Cecily Latham 2 of 2 with Humphrey Bogart
1948 Whiplash Laurie Durant
The Woman in White Marian Halcombe
The Decision of Christopher Blake Evelyn Blake
1949 One Last Fling Olivia Pearce
South of St. Louis Rouge de Lisle
Any Number Can Play Lon Kyng With Clark Gable
1950 Undercover Girl Christine Miller
Montana Maria Singleton 4 of 4 with Errol Flynn
Wyoming Mail Mary Williams
1951 Cave of Outlaws Elizabeth Trent
Here Comes the Groom Winifred Stanley With Bing Crosby
1952 The Turning Point Amanda Waycross With William Holden
1953 Split Second Kay Garven
1954 The Sleeping Tiger Glenda Esmond
1955 The Eternal Sea Sue Hoskins
1957 Beau James Allie Walker With Bob Hope
1958 This Happy Feeling Nita Hollaway Directed by Blake Edwards
1959 The Young Philadelphians Carol Wharton With Paul Newman
1975 Once Is Not Enough Deidre Milford Granger With Kirk Douglas
1976 The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane Mrs. Hallet With Jodie Foster
1978 Casey's Shadow Sarah Blue With Walter Matthau
1982 The Trout (aka La Truite) Gloria
1986 Tough Guys Belle With Burt Lancaster
1993 The Age of Innocence Luisa van der Luyden Directed by Martin Scorsese
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1955 Stage 7 Caroline Taylor 1 episode
1956 The 20th Century Fox Hour Emily Hefferan 1 episode
The Joseph Cotten Show Libby Wilson 1 episode, "We Who Love Her"
1958 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Vivian Braxton 1 episode
1959 Adventures in Paradise Loraine Lucas 1 episode
1960 Michael Shayne Nora Carroll 1 episode
1965 The Defenders Carol Defoe 1 episode
1970 The Governor & J.J. Leslie Carroll 1 episode
1971 Marcus Welby, M.D. Evie Craig 1 episode
1973 Nightside Smitty Television movie
Alternative title: A Very Special Place
1984 Dallas Lady Jessica Farlow Montford Season 7: Episodes 24-30
1985 A Death in California Honey Niven Television mini-series
1986 Dress Gray Mrs. Iris Rylander Television movie
1988 Hothouse Lily Garrison Shannon 7 episodes
1988 "Marcus Welby, M.D.: A Holiday Affair" Tessa Menard Television movie
1990 Dallas Lady Jessica Farlow Montford Season 13: Episodes 23, 24, 26, 27
1990 Lola Phoebe Television movie
1990 Cheers Professor Alice Anne Volkman 1 episode, nominated for an Emmy

Stage Work[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Donnelley 2005, p. 867.
  2. ^ "Film and legit actress Alexis Smith dead at 72." Variety, June 10, 1993. Retrieved: March 11, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e Maltin 1994, p. 824.
  4. ^ Cozad 2006, p. 112.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cozad, W. Lee. More Magnificent Mountain Movies: The Silver Screen Years 1940-2004. Lake Arrowhead, California: Sunstroke Media, 2006. ISBN 978-0-7864-4969-9.
  • Donnelley, Paul. Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. London: Omnibus Press, 2005. ISBN 1-84449-430-6.
  • Maltin, Leonard. "Alexis Smith". Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia. New York: Dutton, 1994. ISBN 0-525-93635-1.

External links[edit]