Charlotte Henry

Charlotte Virginia Henry (March 3, 1914 – April 11, 1980) was an American actress who is best remembered for her roles in Alice in Wonderland (1933) and Babes in Toyland (1934). She also starred in the Frank Buck serial Jungle Menace (1937).[1]

Charlotte Henry
Jungle Menace (1937) film still.jpg
Henry with Frank Buck and Clarence Muse in Jungle Menace (1937)
Charlotte Virginia Henry

(1914-03-03)March 3, 1914
DiedApril 11, 1980(1980-04-11) (aged 66)
OccupationFilm actress
Years active1930–1942
Spouse(s)Dr. James J. Dempsey (19??-1980; her death)

Early yearsEdit

Henry was born in Brooklyn, New York to Robert Emmett Henry (1891–1952) and Charlotte Ann Sayers Henry (1891–1971). She began modelling at a very young age, and was always fascinated by the theatre. At age 14, she was cast in an important role in Courage, a hit Broadway play, in 1928.[2]


The following year, Charlotte's mother brought her to Hollywood. She repeated her part in the movie version of Courage (1930) and enrolled at Lawlors, the school for professional children. Some of her classmates were Frankie Darro, Anita Louise, and Betty Grable. Junior Durkin, who had worked with her in Courage, suggested Charlotte for a play in which he was appearing at the Pasadena Playhouse. By then, she had appeared in two more feature films: Huckleberry Finn in 1931 and Lena Rivers in 1932.

Around that time, Paramount was looking for a young girl to play in their new movie version of Alice in Wonderland, and over 6,800 were auditioned. A Paramount talent scout saw Charlotte in the play and arranged a screen test on a Monday morning. One week to the day later, Henry began filming the high-budget classic. The studio's press department made much of her uncanny resemblance to the character as she appeared in the original Tenniel drawings.[citation needed] The 1933 picture garnered unanimous praise for Charlotte. In 1933, she appeared in the film Man Hunt as Josie Woodward.

Paramount lent her to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for Babes in Toyland with Laurel and Hardy. She appeared as Mlle. Kitty in Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936). She was released from her contract, but continued to make films. She made around 30 films, some as the star, but more often in supporting roles, mostly between 1930 and '37, followed by more modelling, and then five more in 1941-42. Discouraged by the low quality of the work she was being offered, in her own words: "I simply lost interest".[citation needed]

Jungle MenaceEdit

In his autobiography, director Harry L. Fraser described filming the scene in Jungle Menace during which a boa constrictor attacks the heroine Dorothy (Charlotte Henry). The villain has tied Dorothy hand and foot and she thrashes about wildly, terrified when she suddenly sees the huge snake:

The snake was in no hurry. Slowly he slithered across the girl's body, while she screamed and struggled. He turned, looking for a spot to slip under her to make his first wrap. I motioned to the reptile crew to get ready, and a split-second later gave them the signal to move in. But now, the maddened snake fought them and did its best to coil around one of the men. Before that happened, however, I had cut, and we had a good cliff-hanger with our terror-stricken heroine to close the episode.[3]


Henry said that her success as a child actress left her "typed, definitely typed" and cited the difficulty of proving "that I am quite capable of playing serious adult parts."[4] The resulting lack of work in films led her to act on stage in production of the Federal Theatre Project.[4]

Later life and deathEdit

Henry retired from the movies and moved from Hollywood to San Diego, where she ran an employment agency with her mother. She then became executive secretary for 15 years to the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego, Charles F. Buddy. She was married to Dr. James Dempsey and continued with her acting, appearing in several stage productions at the San Diego Old Globe Theatre. Her car licence plate read "ECILA".[citation needed]

Henry died of cancer at age 66 in 1980. The San Diego Union newspaper carried the obituary and noted that she was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery. She was survived by her husband, Dr. James J. Dempsey and her brother, the Reverend Robert E. Henry of St Paul's Episcopal Church in Ventura, California.[5][unreliable source?]


Year Title Role Notes
1930 Harmony at Home Dora Haller
1930 Courage Gwendolyn Colbrook
1930 On Your Back Belle
1931 Huckleberry Finn Mary Jane
1931 Arrowsmith Pioneer|The Pioneer Girl Uncredited
1932 Forbidden Roberta - Age 18
1932 Murders in the Rue Morgue Blonde Girl in Sideshow Audience Uncredited
1932 Lena Rivers Lena Rivers
1932 Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Emma Jane Uncredited
1932 Rasputin and the Empress Minor Role Uncredited
1933 Man Hunt Josie Woodward
1933 Alice in Wonderland Alice
1934 The Last Gentleman Marjorie Barr
1934 The Human Side Lucille Sheldon
1934 Babes in Toyland Bo-Peep
1935 Laddie Shelly Stanton
1935 The Hoosier Schoolmaster Hannah
1935 Forbidden Heaven Ann, The Girl
1935 Three Kids and a Queen Julia Orsatti
1936 The Return of Jimmy Valentine Midge Davis
1936 Hearts in Bondage Julie Buchanan
1936 The Gentleman from Louisiana Linda Costigan
1936 Charlie Chan at the Opera Mlle. Kitty
1936 The Mandarin Mystery Josephine Temple
1937 Jungle Menace Dorothy Elliott Serial
1937 God's Country and the Man Betty Briggs
1937 Young Dynamite Jane Shields
1941 Bowery Blitzkrieg Mary Breslin
1941 Flying Blind Corenson's Secretary
1942 She's in the Army Helen Burke - WAC Enlistee
1942 I Live on Danger Nurse (final film role)


  1. ^ Lehrer, Steven (2006). Bring 'Em Back Alive: The Best of Frank Buck. Texas Tech University press. pp. xi–xii. ISBN 0-89672-582-0.
  2. ^ Tibbetts, John C.; Welsh, James M. (2010). American Classic Screen Profiles. Scarecrow Press. p. 112. ISBN 9780810876774. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  3. ^ Harry L. Fraser. I Went That-a-Way. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. (November 1, 1990). P 117
  4. ^ a b "'Alice' Finds that Wonderland Proved Just a Myth, After All". The Times. Indiana, Munster. July 20, 1939. p. 10. Retrieved September 14, 2018 – via  
  5. ^ Biography Archived February 21, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, Charlotte Henry website,; accessed July 9, 2015.

External linksEdit