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Friday, May 5, 2017

Alice White's Story


Alice White was born Alva Violet White on August 24, 1904 in Paterson, New Jersey. Her mother, a former chorus girl, died when she was just three years old. She was raised by her Italian grandparents in New Haven, Connecticut. When Alice was a teenager they moved to California where she attended Hollywood high school. She got a job as a secretary at Pickford Studios but was fired for being too "sexy". Alice worked as a script girl for Charlie Chaplin and Josef Von Sternberg. Chaplin encouraged her to try acting and she made her film debut in the 1927 silent drama The Sea Tiger.

Alice in 1926                                                                                 

The following year she had starring roles in Gentleman Prefer Blondes and Show Girl. Alice had a bubbly onscreen personality and was often compared to Clara Bow. Her short blonde hair and flapper style would become her trademark. Audiences fell in love with Alice but critics were rarely impressed with her acting. It was also rumored that her singing voice was being dubbed. Alice had serious romances with aviator Dick Grace and actor Donald Keith. She also had an on-again off-again engagement with screenwriter Sydney Bartlett. In 1931 she took a break from making movies. The studio claimed that she was unhappy with her salary and had become difficult to work with.


Alice became involved in an abusive affair with British actor John Warburton. She claimed he once beat her so badly she needed reconstructive surgery on her nose. Alice got back together with Sydney Bartlett and shortly after they were of accused hiring two men to beat up John Warburton. Although she was not charged with a crime the bad publicity damaged her reputation. Alice married Sydney in 1933 and tried to make a comeback. Unfortunately she was only able to get small roles in low budget films. In 1936 she suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for two months. The following year her marriage to Sydney ended. She married screenwriter John Roberts in 1941 but they divorced eight years later. In court she said he "threw things and wasn't very nice".


Alice's last film role was in the 1949 drama Flamingo Road. For many years she lived with musician William Hinshaw. She never had any children. With her movie star days behind her Alice went back to work as a secretary. In 1957 she fell off a ladder and landed on a pair of scissors. The accident left her blinded for several months. When she recovered she was offered a small part on The Ann Sothern Show. As she grew older Alice stayed out of the spotlight but she continued to answer the fan mail she received from around the world. She died on February 19, 1983 after suffering a massive stroke. Alice is buried at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood.