As A&E’s Biography put it, “She rose from the mean streets of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen to become the most famous singing actress in the world. When the pressures of fame became too much, she had the courage to leave Hollywood on her own terms”. Alice Faye was born Alice Jeanne Leppert in NYC on May 5, 1915. She was to become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars of the late 1930s and early 1940s. She started her career as a singer, but later gravitated to film roles. Alice’s first role was in the film George White’s Scandals (1934) in 1934 where she played “Mona Vale”. Lilian Harvey was set to play the lead role in this film, but quit. Alice inherited the part. She went on to star in Tinseltown’s popular and lucrative cookie-cutter musicals and, with her distinctive contralto, introduced several songs that became pop standards, notably “You’ll Never Know” in the film Hello Frisco, Hello (1943) in 1943.
After filming Fallen Angel (1945) in 1945, in which she was very disappointed because many of her best scenes were cut, she walked out on her contract. Her life after Hollywood was charmingly simple. She was married to Hoosier Phil Harris from 1941-1995 in a union that produced two daughters. She had previously been married to Tony Martin for four years. Alice had always said that her family always came before her professional life. She went back to Hollywood to make State Fair (1962) in 1962. At that time, she said “I don’t know what happened to the picture business. I’m sorry I went back to find out. Such a shame”. Her last film was The Magic of Lassie (1978) in 1978 opposite James Stewart. Most of her films are big hits at revival theaters across the country, confirming the power she had in the wonderful performances she gave. Ironically, Alice is more popular in Britain than in the US. Four days after her birthday on May 9, 1998, Alice Faye died in Rancho Mirage, California. She was 83 years old.
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