Gloria Dickson

Gloria Dickson (August 13, 1917 – April 10, 1945) was an American stage and screen actress of the 1930s and 1940s.

Gloria Dickson
From the film Lady of Burlesque (1943)
Thais Alalia Dickerson

(1917-08-13)August 13, 1917
DiedApril 10, 1945(1945-04-10) (aged 27)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of deathHouse fire
Years active1937–1945
Spouse(s)Perc Westmore
(m.1938–1941; divorced)
Ralph Murphy
(m.1941-1944; divorced)
William Fitzgerald
(m.1944–1945; her death)

Early years

Born in Pocatello, Idaho as Thais Alalia Dickerson, she was the daughter of a banker. After her father's death in 1929, the family moved to California.[1] She graduated from Long Beach Polytechnic High School.[2]

She began acting during high school in amateur theatre productions. Encouraged by her acting coaches, she moonlighted doing dramatic readings at social clubs and on KFOX radio station in Long Beach, California.


In April 1936, as she worked in a production of the Federal Theatre Project,[3] she was spotted by Warner Brothers talent scout Max Arnow who signed her to a Warner contract. Her film debut in 1937's They Won't Forget[2] landed her on the top of Hollywood's short list of important up and comers, a distinction which garnered her enormous publicity. In autumn 1937, she was on many magazine covers and was the subject of several major movie magazine articles with titles like, The Luckiest Girl in the World and New Star of the Year.

Personal life

Dickson married Perc Westmore June 20, 1938, in Santa Barbara, California. She filed suit for divorce from him May 17, 1940.[4] The uncontested divorce was granted June 22, 1941, in Los Angeles, California.[5] Her second marriage was to director Ralph Murphy, whom she divorced in 1944.[6] Later in 1944, she married William Fitzgerald, a former boxer.[7]


Dickson died during a fire at the Los Angeles home she was renting from actor Sidney Toler,[8] caused by an unextinguished cigarette that ignited an overstuffed chair on the main floor while she slept upstairs. Her body, and that of her pet dog, were found in the bathroom, and it was assumed that she had attempted to escape through the bathroom window. She died from asphyxiation; flames had seared her lungs, and her body had suffered first- and second-degree burns.[9] She is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.


Stage credits

  • Wise Tomorrow (1937)


  1. "Sensible Is The World For Gloria". The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, the Evening News. Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre. Associated Press. April 7, 1937. p. 8. Retrieved July 5, 2016 via
  2. "Majestic: Gloria Dickson Film". Shamokin News-Dispatch. Pennsylvania, Shamokin. April 12, 1943. p. 5. Retrieved July 5, 2016 via
  3. "WPA Player Signed". The Salt Lake Tribune. Utah, Salt Lake City. November 29, 1936. p. 15. Retrieved July 5, 2016 via
  4. "(untitled brief)". The San Bernardino County Sun. California, San Bernardino. May 18, 1940. p. 12. Retrieved July 5, 2016 via
  5. "(untitled brief)". The San Bernardino County Sun. California, San Bernardino. June 23, 1941. p. 4. Retrieved July 5, 2016 via
  6. "Actress Dies In Home Fire". The Pittsburgh Press. United Press. April 11, 1945.
  7. "Gloria Dickson Of Films Victim Of Suffocation". Fitchburg Sentinel. Massachusetts, Fitchburg. Associated Press. April 11, 1945. p. 3. Retrieved July 5, 2016 via
  8. "Film Actress Dies In Fire In Home". Warren Times-Mirror. Pennsylvania, Warren. Associated Press. April 11, 1945. p. 1. Retrieved July 5, 2016 via
  9. "The Private Life and Times of Gloria Dickson". Retrieved 2008-07-10.

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