Alice White

Alice White

Publicity photo of White from Stars of the Photoplay (1930)
Born Alva White
(1904-08-24)August 24, 1904
or August 28, 1907
Paterson, New Jersey, U.S.
Died February 19, 1983(1983-02-19) (aged 78)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1927–1949
Spouse(s) William Hinshaw
Sy Bartlett (1933–1937)
Jack Roberts (1941–1949)

Alice White (August 24, 1904, Paterson, New Jersey – February 19, 1983, Los Angeles, California) was an American film actress. (The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume lists White's date of birth as August 28, 1907.)[1] Her career spanned late silent films and early sound films.[1]

Early years

She was born Alva White of French and Italian parents. Her mother, a former chorus girl, died when Alice was only three years old.

Raised by her grandparents, she attended schools in Paterson and East Orange, New Jersey.[2] She also attended Roanoke College in Virginia and then took a secretarial course at Hollywood High School, also attended by future actors Joel McCrea and Mary Brian.


After leaving school, White became a secretary and "script girl" for director Josef Von Sternberg.[1] She also worked as a switchboard operator at the Hollywood Writers' Club.[3] After clashing with Von Sternberg, White left to work for Charlie Chaplin, who decided before long to place her in front of the camera.

Publicity photo, 1934

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 bubbbly, vivacious blonde."[4]

After playing a succession of flappers and gold diggers, she attracted the attention of director and producer Mervyn LeRoy, who saw potential in her.

White's screen debut was in The Sea Tiger (1927).[1] Her early films included Show Girl (1928), which had Vitaphone musical accompaniment but no dialog, and its "talkie" 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.[5]

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."[6]

Later career

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. 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.[1]

Personal life

White married writer Sidney Bartlett on December 3, 1933, in Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico.[7]

White was divorced from film writer John Roberts on April 18, 1949, in Los Angeles.[8]


White died of complications from a stroke, aged 78, on February 19, 1983.


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.[9]



Short subjects:


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-50601-2. P. 1228.
  2. "(photo caption)". The New Movie Magazine: 38. December 1929. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  3. Waterbury, Ruth (December 1929). "The Girl Who Licked Hollywood". The New Movie Magazine: 39–40, 123. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  4. Klepper, Robert K. (1999). Silent Films, 1877-1996: A Critical Guide to 646 Movies. McFarland. p. 540. ISBN 9781476604848. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  5. Hollywood Undressed: Observations of Sylvia As Noted by Her Secretary (1931) Brentano’s.
  6. 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 10 November 2016.
  7. "Alice White Weds". The Brownsville Herald. Texas, Brownsville. Associated Press. December 4, 1933. p. 7.
  8. "Divorces". Billboard. April 30, 1949. p. 51. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  9. "Alice White". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved 11 November 2016.

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