Margaret Alexis Fitzsimmons Smith (June 8, 1921 – June 9, 1993), known as Alexis Smith, 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.
Born in Penticton, British Columbia, to Gladys and Alexander Smith, her family relocated to Los Angeles when she was about a year old. Smith grew up in Southern California, 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.
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.
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 (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 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.
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 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 in 1993 on 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.
|1940||Alice in Movieland||Guest at Carlo's||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|
|Steel Against the Sky||Helen Powers|
|Dive Bomber||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|
|Thank Your Lucky Stars||As Herself|
|1944||The Adventures of Mark Twain||Olivia Langdon Clemens||With Fredric March|
|The Doughgirls||Nan Curtiss Dillon|
|1945||The Horn Blows at Midnight||Elizabeth||With Jack Benny|
|San Antonio||Jeanne Star||3 of 4 with Errol Flynn|
|Conflict||Evelyn Turner||1 of 2 with Humphrey Bogart|
|Rhapsody in Blue||Christine Gilbert|
|1946||One More Tomorrow||Cecelia Henry|
|Night and Day||Linda Lee Porter||With Cary Grant|
|Of Human Bondage||Nora Nesbitt|
|1947||Stallion Road||Rory Teller||With Ronald Reagan|
|The Two Mrs. Carrolls||Cecily Latham||2 of 2 with Humphrey Bogart|
|The Woman in White||Marian Halcombe|
|The Decision of Christopher Blake||Evelyn Blake|
|1949||One Last Fling||Olivia Pearce|
|South of St. Louis||Rouge de Lisle|
|Any Number Can Play||Lon Kyng||With Clark Gable|
|1950||Undercover Girl||Christine Miller|
|Montana||Maria Singleton||4 of 4 with Errol Flynn|
|Wyoming Mail||Mary Williams|
|1951||Cave of Outlaws||Elizabeth Trent|
|Here Comes the Groom||Winifred Stanley||With Bing Crosby|
|1952||The Turning Point||Amanda Waycross||With William Holden|
|1953||Split Second||Kay Garven|
|1954||The Sleeping Tiger||Glenda Esmond|
|1955||The Eternal Sea||Sue Hoskins|
|1957||Beau James||Allie Walker||With Bob Hope|
|1958||This Happy Feeling||Nita Hollaway||Directed by Blake Edwards|
|1959||The Young Philadelphians||Carol Wharton||With Paul Newman|
|1975||Once Is Not Enough||Deidre 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|
|1986||Tough Guys||Belle||With Burt Lancaster|
|1993||The Age of Innocence||Luisa van der Luyden||Directed by Martin Scorsese|
|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|
Alternative title: A Very Special Place
|1984||Dallas||Lady Jessica Farlow Montford||Season 7: Episodes 24-30|
|1985||A Death in California||Honey Niven||Television mini-series|
|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)
- 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)
|1952||Lux Radio Theatre||Submarine Commander|
- 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.