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Alice Terry: The Girl From Old Vincennes–Part Two

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Nov 23rd, 2013
2013
Nov 23

HOLLYWOOD PROFILES

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 TERRY-2

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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PART TWO:

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Alice and Rex’s relationship was developing beyond friendship. One evening they were out walking, and Rex asked her if they had enough in common to get along. “I think we get along pretty well,” she said.

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“Well, I mean to get married.”

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Alice didn’t know what to say. She didn’t think that he really wanted to marry her, and she was uncertain how she felt, so one night she invited him over to her house for dinner. She relied on her mother and other friends to advise her what to cook, then made enough for an army. Upon eating the meal, Rex exclaimed, “This is marvelous. Why don’t we do this every day?” That was the end of the cooking.

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Soon, they were back to work together on The Conquering Power, also with Rudolph Valentino. Although he had been easy to work with in Four Horsemen, Valentino’s attitude had changed considerably. Arguments and disagreements broke out on the set on a daily basis. “Things were different,” Alice recalled. “He was dissatisfied with his part, discontented and unhappy. I always had the impression that I was playing with a volcano that might erupt at any minute.”

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After The Conquering Power was finished, Valentino left Metro to work at Famous Players-Lasky, where he made The Sheik. Richard Rowland, Metro’s president, then asked Ingram to direct Turn to the Right as a personal favor to him. The picture had a very nice part for Alice, so Ingram agreed. Rex and Alice were inseparable and very much in love. “I really don’t know when we fell in love,” Rex told her.

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“I’ve always had a crush on you,” she replied, smiling. “But then you know I’m a little nutty anyway.”

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Not long after, Rex  traveled to New York on business. While there he realized that he was lonely for Alice, so he decided to call and propose to her. But instead of giving him an answer, she evaded his question. “When are you coming back?” she asked.

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“Well, I’ll be on my way right now,” he responded.

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However, they did not  marry right away, but wanted to wait until their next picture was finished. That next picture was The Prisoner of Zenda. It was during this film that Alice became friends with Ramon Novarro; a friendship that would last the rest of her life. Novarro, who played Rupert of Hentzau, was picked by Ingram to groom into stardom.

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“Ramon was the best actor of all,” Alice claimed. “I think there was no picture that you could put him in that he couldn’t have reached to every scene. I could have seen him in almost any part outside of an American boy.”

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During production of The Prisoner of Zenda, Rex and Alice decided to marry. Without telling anyone, they were wed on Saturday, November 5, 1921, in South Pasadena at a little place called Adobe Flores. The ceremony that was officiated by Dr. W. E. Edmondson, State Chaplain of the American Legion. The following day they saw three films and were back to work on Monday. When the film was completed, they went to San Francisco for their honeymoon.

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Also appearing in The Prisoner of Zenda was that “Girl Who Was Too Beautiful,” Barbara La Marr. At first Barbara’s beauty made Alice a little uncomfortable and even a little jealous. The late Jimmy Bangley, a writer and film historian, befriended Alice briefly in the early 1980s, and he recalled her telling him about her initial reservations of Barbara La Marr. “She said she was kind of jealous,” Bangley said. “She also told me that she and Rex got married during the filming of The Prisoner of Zenda, and that no one was happier for them than Barbara.”

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Although Alice knew of Barbara’s reputation as a party girl, she drew the line at many of the rumors. Bangley asked her if some of the stories were true. “I don’t believe all these things they printed about her,” Alice insisted.

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According to her nephew, Robert Taafe, this reaction was typical of Alice. “Alice was one that did not like to relate anything to anyone she felt was inappropriate or that bordered on the offensive,” he recalled. “In fact, she would go out of her way to avoid issues like that.”

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Alice sat out Rex’s next film, Trifling Women, but was on hand for the following one which was shot on location in Florida and Cuba. Where the Pavement Ends was based on the novel “The Passion Vine” by John Russell and would again star Ramon Novarro with Alice. Before leaving, Rex talked with Metro president Marcus Loew in New York and was promised directorship of Ben-Hur, the epic the studio was preparing based on the bestselling novel by General Lew Wallace. However, once Rex and Alice were in Cuba filming, they received the unfortunate news that the directing reigns were given to Charles Brabin. Ramon Novarro recalled how Ingram reacted when he heard the news. “His reaction, when he lost it, was a hundred percent Irish—and you know what I mean.”

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.Ramon Novarro and Alice Terry in Where the Pavement Ends

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Alice remained supportive of her husband during the entire time to the point of taking over directorial reigns of Where the Pavement Ends while Rex went on a drinking binge. “There for a short period of time, Rex wasn’t in the mood,” said Robert Taafe. He was promised by Marcus Loew that he would be given Ben-Hur. It was probably Louis B. Mayer who turned it the other way.”

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It was well-known that Ingram and Mayer hated each other. Once when Mayer met Alice outside his office at MGM, he told the blue-eyed beauty, “Thank God I’m not married to him; you’re the one who has to put up with him.”

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Alice was more than happy to “put up” with her husband. She knew the best thing for him was work, so she encouraged him to do another film as soon as Where the Pavement Ends was completed. It would again star Ramon Novarro and was based on another Rafael Sabatini novel called Scaramouche. The film’s budget totaled more than one million dollars once production began on March 17, 1923—St. Patrick’s Day. Of course, Ingram, being a good Irishman, reportedly celebrated by getting drunk and continued celebrating for twelve days, shutting down production before it began.

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Variety said that in Scaramouche Alice Terry “looked wonderful and managed to score heavily.” Photoplay proclaimed that under her husband’s direction, she “has forged her way into the leading ranks of feminine stars.”

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Before work began on her next film, Alice accompanied Rex to London where she met his father, Reverend Frances Hitchcock. After what must have been a moving reunion, they traveled to Tunisia where filming began on The Arab, which again co-starred Ramon Novarro. During production, Rex and Alice fell in love with an Arab boy named Kada-Abd-el-Kader and adopted him. He eventually appeared in several Rex Ingram films but would later cause his adoptive parents untold headaches.

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.Novarro and Terry in The Arab, which was the first time

Alice did not wear her trademark blonde wig.

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Several years later, they brought the young lad to Hollywood where he began associating with fast women, and racing cars through the San Fernando Valley. It seemed that he had misrepresented himself and was really older than he had originally told them. “The entire family was incensed at it all,” remembered Robert Taafe. “Here I was their nephew, and they ignored me entirely.”

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Things go so out of hand with the “boy” that he was finally sent back to Morocco. The Ingrams told friends and the press that Kada was going to finish his schooling in his native land. Of course, this was not true, but they felt they had no other choice than to send him home. “They did not want to say at the time he had misrepresented himself,” Robert Taafe said. “In those days days those kind of things were kept quiet. Of course, today it would have been in all the tabloids.”

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Kada later became a tourist guide in Morocco and Algiers and would always tell the tourists that he was the adopted son of Rex Ingram and Alice Terry.

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NEXT TIME: In Part Three, Alice and Rex move to the French Riviera where they open a studio and make films without Louis B. Mayer’s constant supervision.

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Marvin Paige Obituary

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Nov 13th, 2013
2013
Nov 13

OBITUARY

Marvin Paige, Casting Director on ‘Star Trek,’ ‘General Hospital’ Dies

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PAIGE

 (Sunshine Magazine)

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By Pat Saperstein
Variety
November 13, 2013

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Marvin Paige, who cast movies including “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” two Woody Allen films and shows including “General Hospital,” worked as a celebrity handler and owned an extensive Hollywood archive, died Wednesday in Los Angeles of injuries sustained in a car crash in Laurel Canyon last month. He was in his 80s.

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For his work on nearly 100 episodes of “General Hospital,” he received two Artios nominations from the Casting Society of America. He cast thesps such as Demi Moore and Tia Carrere in the soap.

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Paige spent several decades as a casting director, then reinvented himself in later years as a keeper of Hollywood history who could always find the right person to appear at a tribute or showbiz celebration, such as a recent Cinecon event for Shirley Jones and Pat Boone. “He was essential in targeting the right celebrities for the right event,” said publicist Edward Lozzi, who confirmed his death.

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Lozzi said that Paige helped book classic showbiz figures for numerous organizations including AMPAS, AFI, the American Cinematheque and the Night of 100 Stars Oscar party.

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Among the other shows he cast were the “Planet of the Apes” TV series, “Lassie” and “Combat!”

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In film, he worked with Woody Allen on “Take the Money and Run” and “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex.” Though he was uncredited, he got his start in the casting department for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

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He also worked on numerous TV movies such as “Terror on the Beach” and “Mayday at 40,000 Feet!”

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Paige’s Motion Picture and Television Research Archive was used by shows such as “American Masters,” “Backstory” and “Biography.”

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Alice Terry: The Girl from Old Vincennes

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Nov 8th, 2013
2013
Nov 8

HOLLYWOOD PROFILE

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This is the first of four parts on the silent film actress, Alice Terry.

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Grace, style, and an icy beauty. These qualities describe Alice Terry, one of silent film’s most enchanting and underrated actresses. Even though she made only 24 films, her contribution to the film industry along with her husband, director Rex Ingram, could fill a history book.

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She was born Alice Frances Taafe on July 24, 1899, in a small house on Fifth and Shelby Streets in Vincennes, Indiana. Her father, Martin Taafe, was a farmer who had migrated to Indiana from County Kildare, Ireland. There he met and fell in love with Ella Thorn. The two were married and began a family, with Alice the youngest of three children.

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By the time Alice turned five years old, the Taafe’s had settled in Los Angeles. Not long after their arrival, Mr. Taafe was killed in a street accident, and Mrs. Taafe took her three children back to Indiana. Within the year the Taafe’s returned to Los Angeles and moved into an apartment building in the beach community of Venice.

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The years progressed, and Alice attended Santa Monica High School while her older sister Edna worked at a candy store. At the age of 14, Alice was chosen by the Chamber of Commerce to represent Venice in the “Beauties of the Beach” contest which was sponsored by the neighboring beach communities. “Miss Taafe is a typical beach maiden,” the local newspaper proclaimed. “She is an expert swimmer, diver, tennis player, and she is as swift and sure in a canoe as an Indian maiden.”

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Regardless of her fleeting fame, money was tight, and in order to help make ends meet, Alice auditioned as an extra for Thomas Ince after being encouraged by Tarzan of the Apes actress Enid Markey, who lived in the same apartment building.

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Ince took a liking to the auburn-haired teenager and paid her $12 a week. He put her in several of his films including the 1916 classic, Civilization, in which she played everything from a peasant to a German soldier. Years later, another Ince extra, Charlotte Arthur remembered working with Alice. “Alice Terry,” she recalled, “with whom we at once made friends, whose name was Taafe in those days and whom everyone called Taffy. She was very poor and very Irish and very simple and nice—and very plump—and nobody thought she had a chance. She couldn’t act. Well, Rex Ingram taught her to do that.”

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At the time, Rex Ingram was a young director working mostly at Universal. He was married to a young actress named Doris Pawn. However, the marriage was in trouble from the start, and within the year they were separated. Rex met Alice that same year when he was making a picture at the John Brunton Studios (now Paramount). “I played an extra for two or three days,” Alice recalled,” and then he left for the Royal Flying Corps. I didn’t hear from him again until the end of the war.”

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Alice Terry without her blonde wig

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In the meantime, she continued doing extra work for different studios. Alice did not have much confidence in herself or her talent and was uncomfortable working for anyone other than Thomas Ince. “Somehow I didn’t get the thrill out of working before the camera that one is supposed to experience,” she once told a friend. “Of course, as extras we did not know the story of the picture. We simply obeyed orders as they were shouted at us in a megaphone and then waited until the picture was exhibited at our favorite theater to see what it was all about.”

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Her confidence was soon strengthened when in 1916 director Charles Giblyn cast her as the younger sister opposite Bessie Barriscale in Not My Sister (1916).  “I acted all over the place,” she said, “killing people and eating up the scenery. Until I realized that I didn’t know anything about it. Then I never ‘acted’ again.”

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Regardless, with this taste of acting now in her blood, she set her sights on something more than just an extra. “I want to be a star like Miss Barriscale,” she told a reporter. “And I am going to work just as hard in the future as I have in the past, and who knows but my dream will come true.”

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Her dream eventually would come true, but not until several setbacks. After appearing in Not My Sister, Alice continued in small roles in such films as The Bottom of the Well (1917), Thin Ice (1919), and The Valley of Giants (1919). In 1917 she appeared as an extra in Alimony (1917), made at Metro Studios, along with another unknown named Rudolph Valentino. They were extras together earning $7.50 a day and were well acquainted. “I was an extra so long, never getting anywhere,” Alice remembered. “People would say, ‘its funny, Alice that you don’t get on,” but it wasn’t funny to me. I was so shy and backward, no one was willing to risk me with a part, and I grew to have that whipped feeling, you know, that awful inner discouragement, until I was sure I would never be any good.”

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Unfortunately, it was during this time that Alice’s insecurity caused her to run away from what may have been her first big opportunity. While working as an extra on The Devil’s Pass Key (1920), director Erich Von Stroheim approached her.  “I am starting my next picture soon,” he said. “I think I may be able to do something for you. Come and see me.”

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Alice promised that she would and then walked off the lot and never went back, not even for her pay check. Afraid of having her hopes aroused again, she decided to make a slight change in careers. She found a job in the cutting room at Famous Players-Lasky, but it lasted only a short time because of her adverse reaction to the glue fumes, which forced her to return to acting.

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Soon after she received a call from Rex Ingram who had returned from the war and wanted her to pose for a head he was sculpting. Again, their paths did not cross for several months until Alice was called to be an extra on Ingram’s next film, The Day She Paid (1919). However, he spoke harshly to her, and she began to cry. She walked off the set and refused to go back.

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The next day, Rex called Alice and apologized and asked her to come back. He was going to be changing studios soon, and he had a part for her. Alice told him she would consider being a script girl, but as far as acting was concerned, she was through!

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Rex Ingram and Alice Terry

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Of course, Rex was able to convince Alice to return, and he gave her a small role in his next film, Shore Acres (1920), made at Metro. During this time, Ingram was able to find the talent that lay hidden beneath her shyness and decided to cast her in an important role in Hearts Are Trumps (1920).

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It was during preparation for this film that Alice discovered her trademark. One day she was putting on make-up and saw a blond wig sitting on the table next to her and decided to try it on. Thinking that it looked too silly, she immediately took it off, but not before Ingram walked into the room and saw her in it. He insisted she wear it in the film. Alice felt ridiculous wearing the wig until she saw the rushes three days later. “When I appeared on the screen, I looked so different, and from that time on I never got rid of the wig,” she recalled. “I was stuck with it. I didn’t feel like myself, and my freckles didn’t seem to show. My skin looked whiter, and there was a different person there. If I ever had to rehearse, I always put the wig on or I couldn’t do it.”

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The relationship between Alice and Rex was developing at a rapid pace. Rex began to get possessive of Alice, and once became jealous when she played the ukulele for his assistant, Walter Mayo. Another time, during the making of Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), a taxi driver took a liking to Alice and gave her free rides to the studio from the streetcar stop on Hollywood Boulevard. One morning, Rex overheard the taxi driver as he let her off in front of the studio on Cahuenga Avenue. “Goodbye Alice. I’ll see you in the morning,” he told the young actress. Rex was incensed. “He shouldn’t call you Alice,” Rex insisted. “You’re going to be a big star.”

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“Look,” she told Ingram, “he can call me Alice if he picks me up. I’m not going to ride on that streetcar and then walk six blocks to the studio.” The next day, Rex provided Alice with a car.

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Ingram began grooming his young protégé for stardom. First, he changed her name to Alice Terry and had her teeth fixed. He also sent her to a spa to lose weight. During this time they became good friends. They would meet at a Pasadena tea room and discuss the day’s events and each others secret ambitions. He would take her home, and the next day everyone would tell her about the other girls he saw later that night. “Well, good for him,” she would say. She liked Rex very much, but she knew that kind of behavior was not for her.

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Meanwhile, Metro Pictures’ president, Richard Rowland, bought the rights to the very popular novel The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The Vincente Blasco Ibanez novel had remained on the best seller list consistently, and Rowland felt it could be what the ailing studio needed to rescue it from the brink of bankruptcy.

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Rowland placed the undertaking into the capable hands of scenarist June Mathis. When she suggested Rex Ingram to be the director, Rowland looked at his recent work and saw how little they had cost, compared to their quality. This impressed the cost conscious mogul, and he signed Ingram for the project.

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Rudolph Valentino and Alice Terry in “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”

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Ingram and Mathis did not agree on the choice of the actor to play Julio. Mathis wanted Rudolph Valentino, who was a rising young star. Ingram recalled the young actor from his days at Universal and felt that he could not handle the role. When Mathis agreed to sign Alice Terry in the role of Marguerite, Ingram yielded and agreed to using Valentino.

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When Alice discovered that Metro had signed both her and Valentino, she couldn’t image why Rex and the studio wanted to risk everything on two virtual unknowns. However, Metro executives were betting that the book was still popular with the public, and hoped that would be enough to lure an audience. Once again, Alice’s self confidence was tested. “When I read the book I was terribly frightened,” she recalled. “I used to look at those big sets and wish I could run away; but once we started on the work I forgot to be afraid—I was fascinated.”

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A spirit of congeniality developed on the set, but the work was hard. Rex insisted that the dialogue be spoken in French. Even though it was a silent film, he wanted to impress even the lip readers in the audience. So Alice would get up at five o’clock every morning and study on the streetcar on her way to work. However, after she learned one French title, she would repeat it for every scene. “Nobody could tell the difference,” she reasoned.

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Valentino became very irritated and told her, “If you say that line one more time I’m going to…” Rex finally insisted that she learn the entire dialogue.

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When the film opened in Los Angeles, Alice was a bundle of nerves. Rex had gone to New York to attend the premiere there and called to tell her that the film was a success. As she arrived at the Mission Theater, people greeted her politely, but not with much fanfare. She felt there must be something wrong that she didn’t know. “Then at intermission these people I knew began to recognize me,” she said, “but they didn’t know I had changed my name and that I had changed so much and that I was blonde and all this, and then it was very exciting.”

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was a tremendous hit and put Metro into the black. It also helped the careers of June Mathis and Rex Ingram and made a star of Valentino and Alice Terry.

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Next week, Part Two looks at Alice and Rex Ingram’s budding relationship and the films she made with Ramon Novarro.

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