Alexis Smith

Margaret Alexis Smith (June 8, 1921 – June 9, 1993) was a Canadian-born stage, film, and television actress and singer. She appeared in several major Hollywood films in the 1940s and had a notable career on Broadway in the 1970s, winning a Tony Award in 1972.

Alexis Smith
Smith in 1951
Margaret Alexis Fitzsimmons Smith

(1921-06-08)June 8, 1921
DiedJune 9, 1993(1993-06-09) (aged 72)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1940–1993
Craig Stevens (m. 1944)

Early life

Smith was born in Penticton, British Columbia to Gladys Mabel Fitz-Simmons (a Canadian) and Alexander Smith (a Scot). Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was about a year old. Her parents both became naturalized U.S. citizens in 1939, through which she derived her United States citizenship.[1]

Smith grew up in Los Angeles, attending Hollywood High School along with other future talents, including actress Nanette Fabray. Smith made her professional debut performing ballet at the Hollywood Bowl.[2] She was discovered in 1940 at Los Angeles City College, acting in a school production, by a Warner Brothers' talent scout.[2]

Acting career

Film career

After being discovered by a talent scout while attending college, Smith was signed to a contract by Warner Bros.[3] Her earliest film roles were uncredited bit parts, and it took several years for her career to gain momentum. Her first credited role was in the feature film Dive Bomber (1941), playing the female lead opposite Errol Flynn. She appeared with her future husband Craig Stevens in Steel Against the Sky (1941). Her appearance in The Constant Nymph (1943) was well-received and led to bigger parts.[4]

During the 1940s, Smith appeared with some of the most popular male stars of the day, including Errol Flynn in Gentleman Jim (1942) and San Antonio (1945) (in which she sang a special version of the popular ballad "Some Sunday Morning"), Fredric March in The Adventures of Mark Twain (1944), Humphrey Bogart in Conflict (1945) and The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947), Cary Grant in a sanitized, fictionalized version of the life of Cole and Linda Porter in Night and Day (1946), and Bing Crosby in Here Comes the Groom (1951), her favorite role.[5]

Among Smith's other films are Rhapsody In Blue (1945), Of Human Bondage (1946), and The Young Philadelphians with Paul Newman (1959). She also appeared on a Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis radio (NBC) broadcast on 25 January 1952.[5]

Stage career

While Smith was under contract at Warner Bros., she met fellow actor Craig Stevens; they wed in 1944. In her later years, Smith toured in several stage hits including the 1955 National company of Plain and Fancy, Jean Kerr's Mary, Mary and Cactus Flower, all co-starring her husband.

Smith appeared on the cover of the May 3, 1971 issue of Time as the result of the critical acclaim for her singing and dancing role in Hal Prince's Broadway production of Stephen Sondheim's Follies, which marked her long-awaited Broadway debut. In 1972, she won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance.[5]

Her stage career continued through the 1970s, with appearances in the 1973 all-star revival of The Women (1973), the short-lived re-working of William Inge's drama Picnic, re-titled Summer Brave (1975), and the ill-fated musical Platinum (1978), which earned Smith another Tony nomination for her performance but closed after a brief run. She starred in several regional productions of Applause and then toured for more than a year as the madam in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, including a seven-month run in Los Angeles.

Later work

Smith returned to the big screen with star billing at the age of 54 in Jacqueline Susann's Once Is Not Enough (1975) opposite Kirk Douglas, followed by The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane with Martin Sheen and Jodie Foster the following year and Casey's Shadow with Walter Matthau in 1978.[5] One of her later film roles came in 1986, again with Douglas when he reunited with frequent co-star Burt Lancaster for the comedy Tough Guys. Smith had a recurring role on the television series Dallas as Clayton Farlow's mentally unstable sister, Lady Jessica Montford in 1984, and again in 1990. She also starred in the short-lived 1988 series Hothouse, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for her guest appearance on Cheers in 1990.[5]


Alexis Smith died of brain cancer in Los Angeles on June 9, 1993, the day after her 72nd birthday. She had no children; her sole survivor was her husband of 49 years, actor Craig Stevens. Smith's final film, The Age of Innocence (1993), was released shortly after her death. Her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.[6]


Year Title Role Notes
1940 Alice in Movieland Guest at Carlo's Short, Uncredited
Lady with Red Hair Girl at Wedding Uncredited
She Couldn't Say No Phone Gossip #4 Uncredited
1941 Flight from Destiny Girl Uncredited
The Great Mr. Nobody Woman in office Uncredited
Here Comes Happiness Blonde Uncredited
Affectionately Yours Bridesmaid Uncredited
Singapore Woman Miss Oswald Uncredited
Three Sons o' Guns Actress Uncredited
Passage from Hong Kong Nightclub dancer Uncredited
The Smiling Ghost Elinor Bentley with Wayne Morris and Brenda Marshall
Steel Against the Sky Helen Powers with Lloyd Nolan and Craig Stevens[7]
Dive Bomber

Cadet Girl

Mrs. Linda Fisher

Mary Moore

1 of 4 with Errol Flynn
1942 Gentleman Jim Victoria Ware 2 of 4 with Errol Flynn
1943 The Constant Nymph Florence Creighton with Charles Boyer and Joan Fontaine
Thank Your Lucky Stars Herself
1944 The Adventures of Mark Twain Olivia Langdon Clemens With Fredric March
The Doughgirls Nan Curtiss Dillon with Ann Sheridan and Jane Wyman
Hollywood Canteen Herself
1945 The Horn Blows at Midnight Elizabeth With Jack Benny
Conflict Evelyn Turner 1 of 2 with Humphrey Bogart
Rhapsody in Blue Christine Gilbert with Robert Alda and Joan Leslie
San Antonio Jeanne Star 3 of 4 with Errol Flynn
1946 One More Tomorrow Cecelia Henry with Ann Sheridan and Dennis Morgan
Night and Day Linda Lee Porter With Cary Grant
Of Human Bondage Nora Nesbitt with Paul Henreid and Eleanor Parker
1947 The Two Mrs. Carrolls Cecily Latham 2 of 2 with Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck
Stallion Road Rory Teller With Ronald Reagan
Always Together The Bride Uncredited
1948 The Woman in White Marian Halcombe with Sidney Greenstreet and Eleanor Parker
The Decision of Christopher Blake Evelyn Blake with Ted Donaldson
Whiplash Laurie Durant with Dane Clark
1949 South of St. Louis Rouge de Lisle with Joel McCrea
Any Number Can Play Lon Kyng With Clark Gable
One Last Fling Olivia Pearce with Zachary Scott
1950 Montana Maria Singleton 4 of 4 with Errol Flynn
Wyoming Mail Mary Williams with Stephen McNally
Undercover Girl Christine Miller with Scott Brady and Gladys George
1951 Here Comes the Groom Winifred Stanley With Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman
Cave of Outlaws Elizabeth Trent with Macdonald Carey
1952 The Turning Point Amanda Waycross With William Holden
1953 Split Second Kay Garven with Stephen McNally and Jan Sterling
1954 The Sleeping Tiger Glenda Esmond with Dirk Bogarde
1955 The Eternal Sea Sue Hoskins with Sterling Hayden
1957 Beau James Allie Walker With Bob Hope
1958 This Happy Feeling Nita Hollaway Directed by Blake Edwards; with Curt Jurgens and Debbie Reynolds
1959 The Young Philadelphians Carol Wharton With Paul Newman
1974 Intriga de otros mundos
1975 Jacqueline Susann's Once Is Not Enough Deirdre Milford Granger With Kirk Douglas
1976 The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane Mrs. Hallet With Jodie Foster
1978 Casey's Shadow Sarah Blue With Walter Matthau
1982 The Trout (aka La Truite) Gloria with Isabelle Huppert and Craig Stevens
1986 Tough Guys Belle With Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas
1993 The Age of Innocence Luisa van der Luyden Directed by Martin Scorsese (final film role)
Year Title Role Notes
1955 Stage 7 Caroline Taylor 1 episode
1956 The 20th Century Fox Hour Emily Hefferan 1 episode
The Joseph Cotten Show Libby Wilson 1 episode, "We Who Love Her"
1958 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Vivian Braxton 1 episode
1959 Adventures in Paradise Loraine Lucas 1 episode
1960 Michael Shayne Nora Carroll 1 episode
1965 The Defenders Carol Defoe 1 episode
1970 The Governor & J.J. Leslie Carroll 1 episode
1971 Marcus Welby, M.D. Evie Craig 1 episode (co-starring Craig Stevens)
1972 Bob Hope Special Guest Star airing Oct. 5, 1972
1973 Nightside Smitty Television movie
Alternative title: A Very Special Place
1982 The Love Boat Season 6: Episodes 8 & 9. November 13, 1982
"The Spoonmaker Diamond"/"Papa Doc"/"The Role Model"/"Julie's Tycoon – Parts 1 & 2"
1984 Dallas Lady Jessica Farlow Montford Season 7: Episodes 24–30
1984 The Love Boat Angela Lovett Season 7: Episodes 25 & 26. May 5, 1984
"Dreamboat"/"Gopher, Isaac & the Starlet"/"The Parents"/"The Importance of Being Johnny"/"Julie and the Producer – Parts 1 & 2"
1985 A Death in California Honey Niven Television miniseries
1985 The Love Boat Justina Downey Season 9: Episodes 4 & 5. November 2, 1985
"The Villa"/"The Racer's Edge"/"Love or Money"/"The Accident – Parts 1 & 2"
1986 Dress Gray Mrs. Iris Rylander Television movie
1988 Hothouse Lily Garrison Shannon 7 episodes
1988 Marcus Welby, M.D.: A Holiday Affair Tessa Menard Television movie
1990 Dallas Lady Jessica Farlow Montford Season 13: Episodes 23, 24, 26, 27
1990 Lola Phoebe Television movie
1990 Cheers Professor Alice Anne Volkman 1 episode, nominated for an Emmy

Stage work

Radio appearances

1952Lux Radio TheatreSubmarine Commander[8]

See also

  • Biography portal



  1. Bubbeo 2001, p. 211.
  2. Monush 2003, pg. 69.
  3. Donnelley 2005, p. 867.
  4. Variety 1993.
  5. Maltin 1994, p. 824.
  6. Cozad 2006, p. 112.
  7. Ladd, Harry S. (1941). VIII. Sweet Springs area - West Virginia, Virginia, August 22 - November 3, 1941 ; February 21 - March 28, 1942. [s.n.]
  8. Kirby 1952, p. 48


  • Bubbeo, Daniel. The Women of Warner Brothers. McFarland, 2001. ISBN 978-0-7864-1137-5.
  • Cozad, W. Lee. More Magnificent Mountain Movies: The Silver Screen Years 1940–2004. Lake Arrowhead, California: Sunstroke Media, 2006. ISBN 978-0-9723372-3-6.
  • Donnelley, Paul. Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. London: Omnibus Press, 2005. ISBN 1-84449-430-6.
  • Kirby, Walter. "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review, November 16, 1952. Retrieved: June 18, 2015 via .
  • Maltin, Leonard. "Alexis Smith". Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia. New York: Dutton, 1994. ISBN 0-525-93635-1.
  • Monush, Barry. Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2003. ISBN 978-1-55783-551-2.
  • "Film and legit actress Alexis Smith dead at 72". Variety, June 10, 1993. Retrieved: March 11, 2009.
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