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.
Smith in 1951
Margaret Alexis Fitzsimmons Smith
June 8, 1921
Penticton, British Columbia, Canada
|Died||June 9, 1993 (aged 72)|
Craig Stevens (m. 1944)
Smith was 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 U.S. citizens in 1939, through which she derived her United States citizenship.
Smith grew up in Los Angeles, attending Hollywood High School along with other future talents, including actress Nanette Fabray, who was some six months older. Smith 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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; 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.
|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|
|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|
|Mrs. Linda Fisher
|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|
|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)|
|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|
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||Cheers||Professor Alice Anne Volkman||1 episode, nominated for an Emmy|
- Private Lives (1952)
- Bell, Book and Candle (1953)
- Plain and Fancy (1955 National Tour)
- Wonderful Town (1957)
- Mary, Mary (1965)
- Cactus Flower (1968 National Tour)
- Follies (1971)
- The Women (1973)
- Applause (1973)
- Summer Brave (1975)
- Platinum (1978)
- The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1979-80 National Tour)
- Pal Joey (1983)
- Nymph Errant (1989 Concert)
- Bubbeo 2001, p. 211.
- Monush 2003, pg. 69.
- Donnelley 2005, p. 867.
- Variety 1993.
- Maltin 1994, p. 824.
- Cozad 2006, p. 112.
- Ladd, Harry S. (1941). VIII. Sweet Springs area - West Virginia, Virginia, August 22 - November 3, 1941 ; February 21 - March 28, 1942. [s.n.]
- 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 Newspapers.com .
- 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.