Alice White: A Show Girl in the Pictures

Annex - White, Alice_NRFPT_01

Genuflection today at the altar of Alice White (Alva White, 1904-1983). Though her mother had been a showgirl, White was one of those who fell into the business as a non-actor, working first as a secretary for Von Sternberg and Chaplin. She began getting roles in films in 1927 (when films were still silent). The most famous of these was the original 1928 version of Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, in which she played Dorothy, the friend of Lorelei Lee. Her biggest period was the first two years of sound (1930-1931) — this despite the fact that she couldn’t really talk or sing (though she was A-OK in the hot-cha-cha department). See here for the Mad Marchioness’s impeccable assessment of her in Show Girl in Hollywood, which we caught at Film Forum a few years ago.

In 1931 she took some time off from films to work on her performing chops on the vaudeville circuits.

She returned to Hollywood in 1933. (Among the films she did that year was the terrific Employees’ Entrance starring one of my favorite cads Warren William). But she was immediately beset by a scandal involving her in a love triangle with two different men, which ended up thwarting her career. The pictures after this were minor ones, and her roles got progressively smaller, though she worked steadily through 1942. After a 7 year gap she got one last movie credit in 1949’s Flamingo Road. 

To find out more about  the history of vaudeville, where Hollywood showgirl Alice White briefly dallied, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.

One comment

  1. This clip shows that the vaude circuit did her a world of good–her performance here approaches competence and she gets to slyly riff a bit on the baby-vamping that she so awkwardly executed in “Showgirl” and “Broadway Babies”…
    I always get a kick (ahh, there!) out of the chorus number clip from “Broadway Babies” (“Broadway Baby Dolls”) in which she dances, missing several easy steps in full view of God, the camera and everybody…
    Considering her level of talent, she actually did, as Mrs. Bush-the-First might say, pretty well for herself…


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