Alice Pearce

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Alice Pearce
Alice Pearce Gladys Kravitz Bewitched 1966.jpg
As Gladys Kravitz in Bewitched
Born (1917-10-16)October 16, 1917
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died March 3, 1966(1966-03-03) (aged 48)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Ovarian cancer
Occupation Actress
Years active 1943–1966
Spouse(s) John Rox (1948–1957)
Paul Davis (1964–1966)
Awards Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Alice Pearce (October 16, 1917 – March 3, 1966) was an American actress. She was brought to Hollywood by Gene Kelly to reprise her Broadway performance in the film version of On the Town (1949). Pearce played comedic supporting roles in several films, before being cast as nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz in the television sitcom Bewitched in 1964. She won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series posthumously after the second season of the series. She died from ovarian cancer in 1966.

Early life and career[edit]

Pearce was born in New York City, the only child of Margaret Clark and Robert E. Pearce.[1] Her father was a foreign banking specialist, and her family moved to Europe when she was 18-months-old. They lived in Brussels, Antwerp, Rome, and Paris.[2] At age nine, she fell off of a swing after losing her grip and landed on her chin. This left her with an undeveloped chin. She returned to the United States as a teenager, and boarded at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York.[3] She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1940, with a degree in drama.[1][4] She began working in nightclubs as a comedienne and was cast in the original Broadway production of On the Town (1944–1946). Gene Kelly was so impressed by her that she became the only cast member to be included in the film version in 1949. Her comedic performance was well received by critics and public alike, and she was given her own television variety show. More movie roles followed, and she made appearances on Broadway, where she met her husband, director Paul Davis, during a production of Bells Are Ringing.[citation needed]

During the 1953–1954 television season, Pearce was seen regularly on ABC's Jamie, which starred Brandon de Wilde.[5] In 1964, Pearce was originally approached to play the part of Grandmama in the ABC television comedy series The Addams Family. She turned down the part, which went to veteran actress Blossom Rock. In 1964, Pearce joined the cast of Bewitched as the nagging and nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz. Pearce's scenes were almost entirely reactions to the witchcraft she had witnessed at the house across the street. Her hysterical accusations against Samantha, played by Elizabeth Montgomery, and the disbelief of her husband Abner (George Tobias), provided a common thread through many of the series' early episodes. She played the role until her death in 1966, and was replaced by Sandra Gould.[6] Pearce was posthumously awarded an Emmy Award for this role; Davis accepted this award on her behalf.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Pearce was married twice; in 1948, she married composer John Rox. In 1957, Rox died of a heart attack.[3] In 1964, she married stage manager Paul Davis.[2] Pearce had no children.

Pearce was also a good friend of actor and photographer Cris Alexander. When Alexander was working on the illustrations for Patrick Dennis's bestseller Little Me he asked Pearce to appear in the work as Winnie, the reform school friend of Belle Poitrine, the biography's subject. She also appeared as several characters in Dennis' and Alexander's later project, First Lady: My Thirty Days at the White House.

Death[edit]

Pearce was diagnosed with terminal cancer before Bewitched began. She kept her illness a secret,[8] although her rapid weight loss was quite evident during the second season of the sitcom. She died from ovarian cancer towards the end of the second year of Bewitched at the age of 48. Pearce was cremated and her ashes were scattered at sea.

Selected filmography[edit]

Frank Sinatra, Pearce, Jules Munshin, Gene Kelly, Betty Garrett and Ann Miller in the film version of On the Town (1949)
Year Title Role Notes
1949 On the Town Lucy Shmeeler
1949 The Alice Pearce Show Host Unknown episodes
1951 Lux Video Theatre Nina Episode: "Dames Are Poison"
1952 The Belle of New York Elsie Wilkins
1953 The Motorola Television Hour Hagga Episode: "The Thirteen Clocks"
1953 Broadway Television Theater Miss Dale Ogden
Lady Emily Lyons
Episode: The Bat by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood
Episode: The Bishop Misbehaves by Frederick J. Jackson
1953–1954 Jamie Annie Moakum 3 episodes
1955 How to Be Very, Very Popular Miss "Syl" Sylvester
1955 Alice in Wonderland Dormouse Television movie
1956 The Opposite Sex Olga
1961 The Twilight Zone Mrs. Nielsen Episode: "Static"
1962 Lad: A Dog Hilda, the Nurse
1963 My Six Loves Bus Driver
1963 Tammy and the Doctor Millie Baxter, Nurse
1963 The Thrill of It All Irving's wife
1963 The Donna Reed Show Adele Collins Episode: "A Touch of Glamour"
1964 Dear Heart Miss Moore
1964 Hazel Miss Elsie Episode: "Hot Potato ala Hazel"
1964 The Disorderly Orderly Miss Fuzzibee, Talkative Patient
1964 Kiss Me, Stupid Mrs. Mulligan
1964–1966 Bewitched Gladys Kravitz 27 episodes
1965 Dear Brigitte Unemployment Office Clerk
1966 The Glass Bottom Boat Mabel Fenimore Alternative title: The Spy in Lace Panties
1967 Vacation Playhouse Music Teacher Episode: "My Boy Googie"
Aired posthumously

Awards[edit]

Year Award Category Title of work Result
1966 Emmy Award Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy Bewitched Won
2003 TV Land Awards Nosiest Neighbor Bewitched Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Alice Pearce". TV Land. Viacom. Retrieved October 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Finally the Center of Attention". TV Guide 13 (52): 13–14. December 25–31, 1965. ISSN 0039-8543. 
  3. ^ a b Shearer, Lloyd (October 11, 1964). "Alice Pearce: The Chinless Wonder". Reading Eagle. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Alice Pearce". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. March 4, 1966. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  5. ^ Terrace, Vincent (November 6, 2008). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2 ed.). McFarland & Company. p. 525. ISBN 978-0-7864-8641-0. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Sandra Gould Played Gladys Kravitz". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. July 28, 1999. Retrieved September 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ Handsaker, Gene (May 23, 1966). "Miss Stanwyck, Cosby Are Top Performers". Nashua Telegraph. Associated Press. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Terminal Illness". The Gettysburg Times. March 19, 1966. Retrieved September 28, 2014. 

External links[edit]