Alice White

Alice White (born Alva White, August 25, 1904 – February 19, 1983) was an American film actress.[1][2] Her career spanned late silent films and early sound films.[2]

Alice White
Publicity photo of White from Stars of the Photoplay (1930)
Alva White

August 25, 1904
DiedFebruary 19, 1983 (aged 78)
Years active1927–1949
Spouse(s)Sy Bartlett (m.1933–div.1937)
Jack Roberts (m.1941–div.1949)

Early years

White was born to French and Italian parents. Her mother was Catherine "Kate" Alexander[3], a chorus girl, and her father was Audley White, a paper salesman.[3] Audley abandoned the family when she was a baby and Catherine died in 1915.[4] Alice was raised by her maternal grandparents in Paterson, New Jersey she attended schools in Paterson and East Orange, New Jersey. Her grandfather owned a fruit business.[5]


After leaving school, White became a secretary and "script girl" for director Josef von Sternberg.[2] She also worked as a switchboard operator at the Hollywood Writers' Club.[6] After clashing with von Sternberg, White left to work for Charlie Chaplin, who decided before long to place her in front of the camera.

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 bubbly, vivacious blonde."[7]

After playing a succession of flappers and gold diggers, she attracted the attention of director and producer Mervyn LeRoy, who saw potential in her. Her screen debut was in The Sea Tiger (1927).[2] Her early films included Show Girl (1928), which had Vitaphone musical accompaniment but no dialog, and its 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.[8]

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."[9]

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.[2]

Personal life

In 1933 Alice and her fiance, American screenwriter Sidney Bartlett were accused of arranging the beating of British actor John Warburton. [10] Alice and Warburton had a love affair that ended when he beat her so badly she required cosmetic surgery. A grand jury in Los Angeles decided not to charge Bartlett or White; however, the bad publicity hurt Alice's career.[11]

White married Sidney Bartlett on December 3, 1933 in Magdalena, Mexico.[12] She filed for divorce in 1937 claiming he "stayed away from home" and was awarded $65 per week in alimony.[13]

White married film writer John Roberts on August 24, 1940.[14] They divorced on April 18, 1949 in Los Angeles. The following year, she sued him over unpaid alimony.[15]


White died of complications from a stroke on February 19, 1983 at age 78. She was buried at Valhalla Memorial Park in North Hollywood.[16]


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.[17]


Year Film Role Notes
1927 The Sea TigerManuellaLost film
The Satin WomanJean Taylor Jr.
American BeautyClaire O'RileyLost film
Breakfast at SunriseLoulou
The Private Life of Helen of TroyAdrasteIncomplete
The DoveBit partUncredited
1928 Gentlemen Prefer BlondesDorothy ShawLost film
Mad HourAimeeLost film
LingerieAngele Ree ('Lingerie')
The Big NoiseSophie SlovalLost film
Harold TeenGiggles Dewberry
Three-Ring MarriageTrapeze Performer
Show GirlDixie Dugan
Naughty BabyRosalind McGill
1929 Hot StuffBarbara Allen
Broadway BabiesDelight "Dee" Foster
The Girl from Woolworth'sPat KingLost film
The Show of ShowsHerself
1930 Playing AroundSheba Miller
Show Girl in HollywoodDixie Dugan
Sweet MamaGoldie
Sweethearts on ParadeHelen
The Widow from ChicagoPolly
1931 The Naughty FlirtKatherine Constance "Kay" Elliott
Murder at MidnightEsme Kennedy
1933 Employees' EntrancePolly Dale
Luxury LinerMilli Lensch
Picture SnatcherAllison
King for a NightEvelyn
1934 Cross Country CruiseMay
Jimmy the GentMabel
A Very Honorable GuyHortense
Gift of GabMargot
Secret of the ChateauDidi Bonfee
1935 Sweet MusicLulu Betts Malone
CoronadoViolet Wray Hornbostel
1937 Big CityPeggy Delvin
Telephone OperatorDottie Stengal
1938 King of the NewsboysDolly
Annabel Takes a TourMarcella, Hotel Manicurist
1941 The Night of January 16thUncredited
1942Girls' Town
1949Flamingo RoadGracie
Short subjects
Year Title Role Notes
1933Hollywood on Parade No. A-12
1934 Hollywood on Parade No. B-6
The Hollywood Gad-About
1935 A Trip Thru a Hollywood Studio
Broadway Highlights No. 2


  1. The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume incorrectly lists White's date of birth as August 28, 1907.
  2. Katz, Ephraim (1979). The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume. Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-50601-2, pg. 1228.
  3. "Alice's Parents & Grandparents".
  4. "Catherine "Kate" Alexander White (1885-1915) - Find A Grave Memorial".
  5. "(photo caption)". The New Movie Magazine: 38. December 1929. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  6. Waterbury, Ruth (December 1929). "The Girl Who Licked Hollywood". The New Movie Magazine: 39–40, 123. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  7. Klepper, Robert K. (1999). Silent Films, 1877-1996: A Critical Guide to 646 Movies. McFarland. p. 540. ISBN 9781476604848. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  8. Hollywood Undressed: Observations of Sylvia As Noted by Her Secretary (1931).
  9. 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 November 10, 2016.
  10. "Alice's Scandalous Love Triangle".
  12. "Alice White Weds". The Brownsville Herald. Texas, Brownsville. Associated Press. December 4, 1933. p. 7.
  13. "Alice White ~ Hollywood Flapper: Alice's Marriage To Sidney Bartlett". December 3, 1933. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  14. "Alice's Marriage To Jack Roberts".
  15. "Divorces". Billboard. April 30, 1949. p. 51. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  16. "Alice White (1904-1983) - Find A Grave Memorial".
  17. "Alice White". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
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