Alice Terry

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Alice Terry
Alice Terry Stars of the Photoplay.jpg
Born Alice Frances Taaffe
(1899-07-29)July 29, 1899
Vincennes, Indiana
Died December 22, 1987(1987-12-22) (aged 88)
Burbank, California
Occupation Actress
Years active 1916–1933
Spouse(s) Rex Ingram (1921–1950)

Alice Terry was born on July 24, 1900 in Vincennes, Indiana and died on December 22, 1987. Terry was an American film actress who began her career during the silent film era, appearing in thirty-nine films between 1916 and 1933. While Alice is known for being blonde, she is actually a brunette, and put on her first blonde wig in Hearts Are Trumps (1920) to look different than Francelia Billington, the other actress in the film. Terry played several different characters in the 1916 anti-war film Civilization, co-directed by Thomas H. Ince and Reginald Barker. Alice wore the blonde wig again in her most acclaimed role as "Marguerite" in film The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), and kept the wig for any future roles. In 1925 her husband Rex Ingram co-directed Ben-Hur, filming parts of it in Italy. The two decided to move to the French Riviera, where they set up a small studio in Nice and made several films on location in North Africa, Spain, and Italy for MGM and others. In 1933, Terry made her last film appearance in Baroud, which she also co-directed with husband.

Career[edit]

Born Alice Frances Taaffe in Vincennes, Indiana, she made her film debut in 1916 in Not My Sister, opposite Bessie Barriscale and William Desmond Taylor.

Jackie Coogan "Nazimova" (actress) Gloria Swanson Hollywood Boulevard Picture taken in 1907 of this junction Harold Lloyd Will Rogers Elinor Glyn (Writer) "Buster" Keaton William S. Hart (Two-Gun Bill) Rupert Hughes (Novelist) Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle Wallace Reid Douglas Fairbanks Bebe Daniels "Bull" Montana Rex Ingram Peter the hermit Charlie Chaplin Alice Terry (Actress) Mary Pickford William C. DeMille Cecil Blount DeMille Use button to enlarge or cursor to investigate
This 1921 Vanity Fair caricature by Ralph Barton[1] shows the famous people who, he imagined, left work each day in Hollywood; use cursor to identify individual figures.

Terry started in films as an extra during her mid-teens. For two years she worked in cutting rooms at Famous-Players-Lasky. This work would help her later on when she worked with her husband.

Alice Terry was married to Rex Ingram, a prominent director.[2] One of her biggest problems in her career was being the leading lady in movies directed by her husband. Her roles in films directed by her husband left her passive and unmemorable.[3] Rex Ingram also hired male stars that further outshone her in movies such as The Conquering Power (1921), The Prisoner of Zenda (1922) and others.[3] One fan magazine writer described Alice as "pliant clay" or easily manipulated on screen.

In 1924 and 1925 the marriage between Terry and Ingram was in jeopardy, and in that time period she worked under other directors. During this time period Alice worked on five movies, but her roles particularly in Any Woman (1925) and Sackcloth and Scarlet (1925), both by Paramount Pictures, proved that Alice was a legitimate star away from her husband.[3] When they got back together, Terry took on a more behind-the-scenes role.

Alice's work at Famous-Players-Lasky helped her in ways that were not commonly known to the public. Ingram would often get too moody to work while directing movies so Terry would take over.[3] She was a competent film editor and learned how to direct from a master. When Ingram went to produce his last film, and only talkie, Baroud (1933), Alice helped so much that she was named co-director and she directed all the scenes Ingram appeared in.[2] Baroud highlighted Alice's ability as an all around filmmaker but she never took that further.

Terry worked with Ramón Novarro, a popular a film star from Mexico who drew in audiences as a "Latin lover", and became known as a sex symbol after the death of Rudolph Valentino. Many have said that Novarro outdid Terry in many films such as The Prisoner of Zenda (1922), The Arab (1924) and others; but this didn't hinder their friendship.

Personal life[edit]

In 1921, she married director Rex Ingram during production of The Prisoner of Zenda (1922), which he directed and in which she appeared as Princess Flavia. The couple sneaked away over one weekend, were married in Pasadena, and returned to work promptly the following Monday.[4]

In 1923 Terry and Ingram decided to move to the French Riviera. They formed a small studio in Nice and made several films on location in North Africa, Spain, and Italy for MGM and others.[4]

During the making of The Arab (1924) in Tunisia, they met a street child named Kada-Abd-el-Kader, whom they adopted upon learning that he was an orphan. Allegedly, el-Kader misrepresented his age to make himself seem younger to his adoptive parents.[5]

Alice Terry was known for being open minded and acted as a cover for Ramón Novarro's sexuality. In the 1930's she went with Novarro, Barry Norton, and other homosexual actors to Hollywood nightspots to act as a cover, which received backlash in the magazine The Hollywood Reporter.[3]

When Ingram decided to return to Los Angeles he asked Terry to find a home by a river. One night when Terry was drinking with friends she instructed the cab to pull over so she could throw up. When Terry was done, she looked up and saw a property in Studio City on the Los Angeles River and decided that this place would where her new home with Rex would be.[6]

Once Terry and Ingram moved back to the United States they started having problems with their adopted son, Kada-Abd-el-Kader. He "began associating with fast women and fast cars throughout the San Fernando Valley". Terry and Ingram sent him back to Morocco "to finish school."[5] Kada-Abd-el-Kader never went back to school, but he later became a tourist guide in Morocco and Algiers. El-Kader would always tell tourists that he was the adopted son of Rex Ingram and Alice Terry.[5]

Terry and Ingram retired in the 1930's and took up painting. When Ingram passed away in 1950, Terry invited four of his mistresses at his funeral.[3] When Alice was asked how she could invite four of his mistresses to the post-funeral party said: "Who cares, I'm the only one that can call herself Mrs. Rex Ingram."[3]

After Ingram's death Terry's sister Edna moved into the property on Kelsey Street and controlled Alice's life. Alice had a lover named Gerald Fielding who wanted to move in with Alice but Edna forbade it.[3] It is speculated that Edna was jealous of Alice, Edna started as an extra as movies just like her sister, but then married a financial advisor and she stopped acting altogether.[3]

Terry was still active in the 1970's. She loved hosting Sunday afternoon parties and going out to dinner in extravagant, floor length mink coats.[3] She was proud of her appearance and wanted to make sure all other women were envious.

Terry with her husband, Rex Ingram. Photoplay, March 1922.

Death[edit]

Alzheimer's put a stop to Terry's parties and fun and she eventually died in a Burbank, California hospital on December 22, 1987. Her grave is located in the Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Alice Terry has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6628 Hollywood Blvd.

Selected filmography[edit]

Terry in Picture-Play, May 1921
Year Title Role Notes
1916 Not My Sister Ruth Tyler Credited as Alice Taafe
Civilization Extra (Various, from a peasant to a German Soldier) Uncredited
A Corner in Colleens Daisy Credited as Alice Taafe
1917 Wild Winship's Widow Marjory Howe Credited as Alice Taafe
Strictly Business
The Bottom of the Well Anita Thomas
Alimony Extra Uncredited
1918 The Clarion Call
A Bachelor's Children Penelope Winthrop
Old Wives for New Saleslady Credited as Alice Taafe
The Song and the Sergeant
Sisters of the Golden Circle Mrs. Pinkey McGuire
The Brief Debut of Tildy Tildy
Love Watches Charlotte Bernier
The Trimmed Lamp
1919 Thin Ice Jocelyn Miller
The Love Burglar Elsie Strong Credited as Alice Taafe
The Valley of the Giants Mrs. Cardigan Credited as Alice Taafe
Alternative title: In the Valley of the Giants
The Day She Paid Credited as Alice Taafe
Alternative title: Oats and the Woman
1920 Shore Acres Extra Uncredited
The Devil's Pass Key Extra Uncredited
Hearts Are Trumps Dora Woodberry
1921 The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Marguerite Laurier
The Conquering Power Eugenie Grandet Alternative title: Eugenie Grandet
1922 Turn To The Right Elsie Tillinger
The Prisoner of Zenda Princess Flavia
1923 Where the Pavement Ends Matilda Spener
Scaramouche Aline de Kercadiou, Quintin's Niece
1924 The Arab Mary Hilbert
1925 The Great Divide Ruth Jordan
Sackcloth and Scarlet Joan Freeman
Confessions of a Queen Frederika/The Queen
Any Woman Ellen Linden
1926 Mare Nostrum Freya Talberg Alternative title: Our Sea
The Magician Margaret Dauncey
1927 Lovers Felicia
The Garden of Allah Domini Enfilden
1928 The Three Passions Lady Victoria Burlington
1933 Baroud Co-director
Alternative title: Love in Morocco

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vanity Fair magazine September 1921, accessed 2009[dead link]
  2. ^ "Rex Ingram". www.tcd.ie. Retrieved 2015-12-11. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Slide, Anthony; Silent Topics: Essays on Undocumented Areas of Silent Film; p. 48
  4. ^ a b "Alice Terry". IMDb. Retrieved 2015-12-11. 
  5. ^ a b c "Kada-Abd-el-Kader". IMDb. Retrieved 2015-12-11. 
  6. ^ Slide, Anthony (2010-02-01). Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813137454. 

External links[edit]