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Ross Alexander

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ross Alexander
Ross Alexander in the trailer for Shipmates Forever (1935).jpg
Ross Alexander in the trailer for Shipmates Forever in 1935
Born
Alexander Ross Smith

(1907-07-27)July 27, 1907
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedJanuary 2, 1937(1937-01-02) (aged 29)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of deathSuicide by gunshot to the head
OccupationActor
Years active1924–1937
Spouse(s)Aleta Freel (1934–1935, her suicide)
Anne Nagel (1936–1937, his suicide)

Ross Alexander (born Alexander Ross Smith; July 27, 1907 – January 2, 1937) was an American stage and film actor.

Early years

Alexander was born Alexander Ross Smith in Brooklyn, New York,[1] the son of Maud Adelle (Cohen) and Alexander Ross Smith.[2] His maternal great-grandfather Morris Cohen was a Polish Jewish immigrant.[citation needed]

His father was a leather merchant. Alexander grew up in Rochester, New York, where his family moved soon after he was born. When he was 17, he went to New York City and studied acting at the Packard Theatrical Agency.[3]

Stage

Alexander began his acting career with the Henry Jewett Players in Boston, debuting in Enter Madame.[4] By 1926, he was regarded as a promising leading man with good looks and an easy and charming style and began appearing in more substantial roles.

His Broadway credits include The Party's Over (1932), Honeymoon (1932), The Stork Is Dead (1932), After Tomorrow (1931), That's Gratitude (1930), Let Us Be Gay (1928), The Ladder (1926), and Enter Madame (1920).[5]

Film

Alexander was signed to a film contract by Paramount Pictures, and his film debut in The Wiser Sex[6] (1932) was not a success,[citation needed] and so he returned to Broadway. In 1934, he was signed to another studio contract, this time by Warner Bros. His bigger successes from this period were Flirtation Walk (1934), A Midsummer Night's Dream and Captain Blood (both 1935).

In 1936, he starred in Hot Money. It was a defining role in his persona as a glamorous, well-dressed and dapper leading man, not in the usual Warner gangster mold of rough-hewn stars such as Edward G. Robinson or Paul Muni.

His final film Ready, Willing and Able, a Ruby Keeler musical, was released posthumously. Supposedly Ronald Reagan was signed by the studio as a replacement for Alexander due to remarked similarities in their radio voices and mannerisms.[7]

Personal life

Alexander married actress Aleta Freel on February 28, 1934, in East Orange, New Jersey.[3] Freel committed suicide on December 7, 1935, shooting herself in the head with a .22 rifle.[8] On September 17, 1936, Alexander married actress Anne Nagel,[9] with whom he had appeared in the films China Clipper and Here Comes Carter (both 1936).

Reportedly in a relationship with Errol Flynn during production on Captain Blood (1935), Alexander was possibly gay or the very least bisexual and was deeply closeted.[10]

Death

On January 2, 1937, three months after marrying Nagel, with his professional and personal life in disarray and deeply in debt, Alexander shot himself in the head in the barn behind his home. Although it has been reported that Alexander used the same gun with which his first wife Aleta Freel shot herself,[11] he shot himself with a .22 pistol (not a rifle). He is buried in lot 292 of the Sunrise Slope section of Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.[12]

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1932 The Wiser Sex Jimmy O'Neill
1934 Social Register Lester Trout
1934 Gentlemen Are Born Tom Martin
1934 Flirtation Walk Oskie
1935 Maybe It's Love Rims O'Neil
1935 Going Highbrow Harley Marsh
1935 We're in the Money C. Richard Courtney, aka Carter
1935 A Midsummer Night's Dream Demetrius
1935 Shipmates Forever Lafayette "Sparks" Brown
1935 Captain Blood Jeremy Pitt
1936 Boulder Dam Rusty Noonan
1936 Brides Are Like That Bill McAllister
1936 I Married a Doctor Erik Valborg
1936 Hot Money Chick Randall
1936 China Clipper Tom Collins
1936 Here Comes Carter Kent Carter Alternative title: The Voice of Scandal
1937 Ready, Willing, and Able Barry Granville Released posthumously

References

  1. ^ Frasier, David K. (2005). Suicide in the Entertainment Industry: An Encyclopedia of 840 Twentieth Century Cases. McFarland. pp. 9–10. ISBN 9781476608075. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  2. ^ "Hundreds at Actor's Funeral". The Edwardsville Intelligencer. Illinois, Edwardsville. January 9, 1937. p. 3. Retrieved June 16, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  3. ^ a b Allen, John R. Jr. "Ross Alexander". Classic Images. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  4. ^ "Signed for Films". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. November 4, 1931. p. 21. Retrieved June 16, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  5. ^ "("Ross Alexander" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on 16 June 2017. Retrieved 16 June 2017.
  6. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the silent era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 7–8. ISBN 9781557835512. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  7. ^ Anger, Kenneth (1984). Hollywood Babylon II, Plume, New York, p. 215.
  8. ^ "Milestones". Time. December 7, 1935.
  9. ^ "Alexander Ended Life As Film Fame Neared". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. Associated Press. January 4, 1937. p. 3. Retrieved June 15, 2017 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  10. ^ "Ross Alexander: The Tragic Suicide of a Closeted 1930s Hollywood Star". Original Cinemaniac. December 28, 2020. Retrieved November 27, 2021.
  11. ^ Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 38. ISBN 1-84449-430-6.
  12. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-4766-2599-7. Retrieved January 22, 2021.

External links

This page was last edited on 8 January 2022, at 20:59
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