Mary Alice Rice: A Soprano in Society

Mary Alice Rice (1910-1989) came into the world on December 30.

Originally from Temple, Texas, Rice was a trained soprano, and once called “one of the ten most beautiful women on the American stage” by Flo Ziegfeld. It’s frequently written that she was in the chorus of the George White show Flying High (1930-31) starring Bert Lahr, although she’s not listed in the credits. However she is credited in the casts of The Gang’s All Here (1931), The Ziegfeld Follies of 1931, Hot-Cha! (1932), and Music in the Air (1932-1933).

In the latter show she had a featured spot, and it apparently attracted the amorous attentions of millionaire playboy William Guggenheim. This may be why her theatrical credits cease at this stage.

In 1936, she gave Hollywood a shot. She has small roles in two Universal “B” pictures that came out that year, Love Letters of a Star and Flying Hostess. In 1938 she was in a musical short put out by Educational, called Love Goes West.

In 1941, Guggenheim died, and the world was shocked to learn that Rice, along with three other chorus girls, were the heirs to his estate, which unfortunately at that point was down to only $12,000. At this stage, Rice reinvented herself. From 1942 through 1987 she staged fashion shows for charities at glitzy New York hotels like the Plaza and the St. Regis.  In 1954, she married Dr. William Evers, executive director of the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation.

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