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Alexis Smith

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Occupation  Actress, singer
TV shows  Hothouse
Role  Film actress
Name  Alexis Smith
Years active  1940–1993

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Full Name  Margaret Alexis Fitzsimmons Smith
Born  June 8, 1921 (1921-06-08) Penticton, British Columbia, Canada
Died  June 9, 1993, Los Angeles, California, United States
Spouse  Craig Stevens (m. 1944–1993)
Education  Hollywood High School, Los Angeles City College
Movies  The Little Girl Who Lives Do, Night and Day, Gentleman Jim, The Two Mrs Carrolls, San Antonio
Similar People  Craig Stevens, Nicolas Gessner, Raoul Walsh, Peter Godfrey, Ray Enright

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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 movies in the 1940s and had a notable career on Broadway in the 1970s, winning a Tony Award in 1972.


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Early life

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Born in Penticton, British Columbia, to Gladys Mabel Fitz-Simmons (a Canadian) and Alexander Smith (a Scot), her family relocated to Los Angeles when she was about a year old. Her parents both became naturalized citizens in 1939, through which she derived her United States citizenship. Smith grew up in Los Angeles, attending Hollywood High School. When she was 13 she made her professional debut, performing ballet at the Hollywood Bowl. She was discovered in 1940 at Los Angeles City College, acting in a school production, by a Warner Brothers' talent scout.

Film career

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After being discovered by a talent scout while attending college, Smith was signed to a contract by Warner Bros. 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. Her appearance in The Constant Nymph (1943) was well received and led to bigger parts.

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During the 1940s, Smith appeared alongside 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.

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

Stage career

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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, co-starring with her husband in Jean Kerr's Mary, Mary and Cactus Flower.

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.

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 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. One of her final film roles came in 1986, again with Douglas when he reunited with frequent co-star Burt Lancaster for a 1986 crime 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.


Alexis Smith died of brain cancer in Los Angeles on June 9, 1993, the day after her 72nd birthday. She had no children and 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.

Stage work

  • Private Lives (1952)
  • Bell, Book and Candle (1953)
  • Wonderful Town (1957)
  • Mary, Mary (1965)
  • Follies (1971)
  • The Women (1973)
  • Applause (1973)
  • Summer Brave (1975)
  • Platinum (1978)
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1979)
  • Pal Joey (1983)
  • Nymph Errant (1989)
  • References

    Alexis Smith Wikipedia