Alice White

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Alice White
Alice White Stars of the Photoplay.jpg
Publicity photo of White from Stars of the Photoplay (1930)
Born
Alva White

August 25, 1904
DiedFebruary 19, 1983 (aged 78)
OccupationActress
Years active1927–1949
Spouse(s)Sy Bartlett (m.1933–div.1937)
Jack Roberts (m.1941–div.1949)

Alice White (born Alva White, August 25, 1904[1][2] – February 19, 1983) was an American film actress. Her career spanned late silent films and early sound films.[2]

Early years[edit]

White was born to French and Italian parents. Her mother was Catherine "Kate" Alexander,[citation needed] a chorus girl, and her father was Audley White, a paper salesman.[citation needed] Audley abandoned the family when she was a baby and Catherine died in 1915.[citation needed] Alice was raised by her maternal grandparents in Paterson, New Jersey, and she attended schools in Paterson and East Orange, New Jersey. Her grandfather owned a fruit business.[3]

Film[edit]

Alice White in 1933
Publicity photo from 1934

After leaving school, White became a secretary and "script girl" for director Josef von Sternberg.[2] She also worked as a switchboard operator at the Hollywood Writers' Club.[4] After clashing with von Sternberg, White left to work for Charlie Chaplin, who decided before long to place her in front of the camera.

Her bubbly and vivacious persona led to comparisons with Clara Bow, but White's career was slow to progress. In his book Silent Films, 1877-1996: A Critical Guide to 646 Movies, Robert K. Klepper wrote: "Some critics have said that Ms. White was a second-string Clara Bow. In actuality, Ms. White had her own type of charm, and was a delightful actress in her own, unique way. Whereas Clara Bow played the quintessential, flaming redheaded flapper, Alice White was more of a bubbly, vivacious blonde."[5]

After playing a succession of flappers and gold diggers, she attracted the attention of director and producer Mervyn LeRoy, who saw potential in her. Her screen debut was in The Sea Tiger (1927).[2] Her early films included Show Girl (1928), which had Vitaphone musical accompaniment but no dialog, and its musical sequel Show Girl in Hollywood (1930), both released by Warner Brothers and both based on novels by J.P. McEvoy. In these two films, White appeared as Dixie Dugan. In October 1929, McAvoy started the comic strip Dixie Dugan with the character Dixie having a "helmet" hairstyle and appearance similar to actress Louise Brooks. White also used the services of Hollywood 'beauty sculptor' Sylvia of Hollywood to stay in shape.[6]

White was featured in The Girl from Woolworth's (1929), having the role of a singing clerk in the music department of a Woolworth's store. Karen Plunkett-Powell wrote in her book Remembering Woolworth's: A Nostalgic History of the World's Most Famous Five-and-Dime: "First National Pictures produced this 60-minute musical as a showcase for up-and-coming actress Alice White."[7]

Later career[edit]

She left films in 1931 to improve her acting abilities, returning in 1933 only to have her career hurt by a scandal that erupted over her involvement with boyfriend actor Jack Warburton and future husband Sy Bartlett. Although she later married Bartlett, her reputation was tarnished and she appeared only in supporting roles after this, including Jimmy the Gent (1934) with James Cagney and Bette Davis. By 1937 and 1938, her name was at the bottom of the cast lists. She made her final film appearance in Flamingo Road (1949) and eventually resumed working as a secretary.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Sy Bartlett and Alice White, 1931

In 1933 Alice and her fiancé, American screenwriter Sidney Bartlett were accused of arranging the beating of British actor John Warburton.[citation needed] Alice and Warburton had a love affair that ended when he beat her so badly she required cosmetic surgery. A grand jury in Los Angeles decided not to charge Bartlett or White; however, the bad publicity hurt Alice's career.[citation needed]

White married Sidney Bartlett on December 3, 1933 in Magdalena, Mexico.[8] She filed for divorce in 1937 claiming he "stayed away from home" and was awarded $65 per week in alimony.[citation needed]

White married film writer John Roberts on August 24, 1940.[citation needed] They divorced on April 18, 1949 in Los Angeles. The following year, she sued him over unpaid alimony.[9]

Death[edit]

White died of complications from a stroke on February 19, 1983 at age 78. She was buried at Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood.[citation needed]

Award[edit]

White has a star at 1511 Vine Street in the Motion Pictures section of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was dedicated on February 8, 1960.[10]

Filmography[edit]

Film
Year Film Role Notes
1927 The Sea Tiger Manuella Lost film
The Satin Woman Jean Taylor Jr.
American Beauty Claire O'Riley Lost film
Breakfast at Sunrise Loulou
The Private Life of Helen of Troy Adraste Incomplete
The Dove Bit part Uncredited
Incomplete
1928 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Dorothy Shaw Lost film
Mad Hour Aimee Lost film
Lingerie Angele Ree ('Lingerie')
The Big Noise Sophie Sloval Lost film
Harold Teen Giggles Dewberry
Three-Ring Marriage Trapeze Performer
Show Girl Dixie Dugan
Naughty Baby Rosalind McGill
1929 Hot Stuff Barbara Allen
Broadway Babies Delight "Dee" Foster
The Girl from Woolworth's Pat King Lost film
The Show of Shows Herself
1930 Playing Around Sheba Miller
Show Girl in Hollywood Dixie Dugan
Sweet Mama Goldie
Sweethearts on Parade Helen
The Widow from Chicago Polly
1931 The Naughty Flirt Katherine Constance "Kay" Elliott
Murder at Midnight Esme Kennedy
1933 Employees' Entrance Polly Dale
Luxury Liner Milli Lensch
Picture Snatcher Allison
King for a Night Evelyn
1934 Cross Country Cruise May
Jimmy the Gent Mabel
A Very Honorable Guy Hortense
Gift of Gab Margot
Secret of the Chateau Didi Bonfee
1935 Sweet Music Lulu Betts Malone
Coronado Violet Wray Hornbostel
1937 Big City Peggy Delvin
Telephone Operator Dottie Stengal
1938 King of the Newsboys Dolly
Annabel Takes a Tour Marcella, Hotel Manicurist
1941 The Night of January 16th Uncredited
1942 Girls' Town Nicky
1949 Flamingo Road Gracie
Short subjects
Year Title Role Notes
1933 Hollywood on Parade No. A-12
1934 Hollywood on Parade No. B-6
The Hollywood Gad-About
1935 A Trip Thru a Hollywood Studio
Broadway Highlights No. 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume incorrectly lists White's date of birth as August 28, 1907.
  2. ^ a b c d e Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-50601-2, pg. 1228.
  3. ^ "(photo caption)". The New Movie Magazine: 38. December 1929. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  4. ^ Waterbury, Ruth (December 1929). "The Girl Who Licked Hollywood". The New Movie Magazine: 39–40, 123. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  5. ^ Klepper, Robert K. (1999). Silent Films, 1877-1996: A Critical Guide to 646 Movies. McFarland. p. 540. ISBN 9781476604848. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  6. ^ Hollywood Undressed: Observations of Sylvia As Noted by Her Secretary (1931).
  7. ^ Plunkett-Powell, Karen (2001). Remembering Woolworth's: A Nostalgic History of the World's Most Famous Five-and-Dime. Macmillan. p. 191. ISBN 9780312277048. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  8. ^ "Alice White Weds". The Brownsville Herald. Texas, Brownsville. Associated Press. December 4, 1933. p. 7.
  9. ^ "Divorces". Billboard. April 30, 1949. p. 51. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  10. ^ "Alice White". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved November 11, 2016.

External links[edit]