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"In the Spotlight"


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Thanxx for the info on Phyllis Thaxter, one of the unsung actresses. You say more with your pictures than certain board members do with their 50 posts an hour and complaints of not being loved or wanted. Oy vey! Thank you!!


(I remember Skye Aubrey back in the 70's) made me think of Priscilla Lane).

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Johnny with Wallace Ford & Leila Hyams in "Freaks"



The recent DVD release of "Freaks" is best enjoyed for its wealth of documentary material, providing excellent background and commentary on the making of the film, and the lives of the remarkable human beings who appeared in it.

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Johnny (front & center) with the cast of "Freaks" (1932)


Oddly enough, blonde actress Olga Baclanova (rear center) appears to be wearing

the feathered hen outfit that shocked movie goers at the time.


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In the Spotlight: ALEXIS SMITH




The tall, graceful, striking redhead was Born Gladys Smith on June 8, 1921 in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, she was the second Canadian with the name (following Mary Pickford) to achieve New York City and Hollywood stardom.


Bitten by the acting bug while in her teens, Smith briefly worked in Canadian summer stock before heading south to Los Angeles where, spotted in a local stage production, she inked a contract with Warners before reaching her twentieth birthday.


Her earliest film roles were uncredited bit parts and it took several years for her career to gain momentum. She was subsequently billed as "The Dynamite Girl" and "The Flame Girl" in promotional articles.


She won the female lead in an A picture "Dive Bomber" and a year later was working opposite Errol Flynn in "Gentleman Jim" (1942). She was set from that point on, though Warners alternated leading-lady parts with those of the "other woman," at which she excelled.


She was quite tall, standing at least 5'9", and to fit her, the long, stylish dresses that former Warners' star Kay Francis had worn were allotted to her.


Her Warners films include "Thank Your Lucky Stars", "The Constant Nymph", "The Adventures of Mark Twain" (as Twain's wife), "Hollywood Canteen", "The Doughgirls", "The Horn Blows at Midnight", "Conflict", "Rhapsody in Blue", "San Antonio" in which she sang the Oscar nominated song "Some Sunday Morning", "Night and Day" (as the wife of songwriter Cole Porter), "Of Human Bondage", "Stallion Road", "The Two Mrs. Carrolls" with Bogart, "The Woman in White", "The Decision of Christopher Blake", "Whiplash", "South of St. Louis", "Any Number Can Play" with Gable (on loan to MGM), and "Montana".

Her favorite experience was playing the other woman for Frank Capra in "Here Comes the Groom" and indeed, she seemed looser, more natural than in almost any of her previous films.

But such opportunities were rare; her freelance credits include "Undercover Girl" (1950), "The Turning Point" (1952), "Split Second" (1953), "The Sleeping Tiger" (1954), "The Eternal Sea" (1955), "Beau James" with Bob Hope (1957), "This Happy Feeling" (1958), and "The Young Philadelphians" (1959), in which she fell during a horse riding sequence and broke her back.


Later in life she would say she preferred New York, while her husband, actor Craig Stevens ("Peter Gunn"), favored California.

Rumors about her sexuality were prompted by lesbian author Rita Mae Brown's dedication of her book, 'Rubyfruit Jungle', to Smith.


In 1971 Smith astonished fans when she kicked up her heels (literally) as the vivacious and seemingly ageless singing star in Stephen Sondheim's Broadway musical "Follies" (for which she won a Tony Award.) It led to new offers for films, TV appearances, and stage work including the ill-fated 1978 musical "Platinum", for which she was nominated for another Tony Award.

Also had her own night club act in the 70s which she took to Los Angeles and Canada.


Her later movies include "Once Is Not Enough" as a lesbian (1975), "The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane" (1976), "Casey's Shadow" (1978), "The Trout" (1982), and "Tough Guys" (1986).


Smith had a recurring role on the TV series "Dallas" as Clayton Farlow's sister in the seventh season.

She was nominated for an Emmy Award for a guest appearance in the television sitcom "Cheers" in 1990.


Alexis Smith died in Los Angeles, California from brain cancer on the day after her 72nd birthday. Ashes scattered over the Pacific - 3 miles off San Pedro, CA.

She had no children and her husband of 49 years was her sole survivor.

Her final film, "The Age of Innocence" (1993) in which she played an influential New York society matron, was released shortly after her death.


Quoted: "There are so many more interesting things to think about than whether Ida Lupino or Jane Wyman got the roles I should have gotten."


The lady does not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


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Hi Mongo,

Thanks so much for shedding more light on Alexis Smith. I must admit that until about a year ago, I thought that she was a very lovely but rather empty presence on screen. Then I finally caught up with her remarkably good dramatic performance in The Constant Nymph and her delightful change of pace in Here Comes the Groom. If only she'd had a few more chances at these roles instead of the rather bland but decorative upper class ice maidens she usually played!


Based on that great quote that you ended your piece with, it's good to know that she found more in life than brooding about roles lost to her competitors at Warners. Though I haven't heard the cast album in some time, Stephen Sondheim's Follies gave a mature Ms. Smith, Yvonne de Carlo, John McMartin & Dorothy Collins some great moments. You make me want to track that recording down again. Thanks for the great profile. Speaking of great profiles, here's another:


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I just saw Alexis on the big screen in the Noir City festival here in seattle. The double feature I caught was Conflict and The Suspect. Conflict 1945, is the film that has Alexis Smith and Humphrey Bogart. This movie is similar to The Two Mrs Carroll's, which also has Alexis Smith. Do you have any pics from these 2 films?

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