Childhood & Early Life
Alexis Smith was born Margaret Alexis Fitzsimmons Smith on June 8, 1921 in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, to to Gladys Mabel Fitz-Simmons and Alexander Smith.
She was a bright child and began acting in her teens in summer stock in Canada. She used to take ballet lessons and soon became a trained dancer. She won a dance school championship at the age of ten and debuted in professional dancing at the age of 13.
Later her family moved to U.S.A where she was brought up in Los Angeles. She attended the ‘Hollywood High School’ in Los Angeles, where she showcased her acting talent and won a statewide acting contest.
After graduating from high school, she got enrolled at the Los Angeles City College in a demanding theatrical training program and earned a degree in drama.
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While studying in college, she got noticed during a campus theater production by a talent scout of Warner Brothers, a leading film production company, and was offered a role in a movie.
She passed the screen test and instantly signed the contract with Warner Bros. Her initial roles comprised of uncredited bit parts in numerous movies such as ‘Alice in Movieland’ (1940), ‘Flight from Destiny’ (1941), ‘Here Comes Happiness’ (1941), ‘Passage from Hong Kong’ (1941) and several others.
Her first major credited role was of the female lead opposite Errol Flynn in the 1941 feature film ‘Dive Bomber’. It was an American aviation film in which her character was love interest of the two rivals, played by Errol Flynn and Fred MacMurray.
In 1942, she again shared the screen space with Flynn in the movie, ‘Gentlemen Jim’. It was an adaptation of the autobiography of world heavyweight boxing champion, James Jon Corbett. She portrayed his love interest, ‘Victoria Ware’, in the movie.
Her next successful venture was the romantic drama, ‘The Constant Nymph’, in 1943. The movie was well received and her performance was appreciated.
In 1944, she appeared opposite Frederic March in the biographical film ‘The Adventures of Mark Twain’. The film received three Academy Award nominations and was considered one of the best biopics.
In 1945, she was again seen playing the female lead opposite Flynn in the movie ‘San Antonio’. She also appeared as the main female lead in the 1945 suspense film ‘Conflict’ alongside Humphrey Bogart and Sydney Greenstreet.
She acted in numerous other films including ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ (1945), ‘Night and Day’ (1946), ‘The Two Mrs. Carrolls’ (1947), ‘Stallion Road’ (1947), ‘The Woman in White’ (1948), ‘Montana’ (1950), ’Split Second’ (1953), ‘The Eternal Sea’ (1955) and ‘This Happy Feeling’ (1958).
She opted out of movies in 1959 and appeared in musicals such as ‘Cactus Flower’ and ‘Mary, Mary’ with her real life husband Craig Stevens. Her performances in other musicals such as ‘Follies’ and ‘Platinum’ were highly appreciated.
She returned to Hollywood after the break and did some movies such as ‘Once Is Not Enough’ (1975), ‘The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane’ (1976) and ‘Casey's Shadow’ (1978).
She also appeared in television sitcoms such as ‘Dallas’ (1984 and 1990), ‘Hothouse’ (1988) and several others. She also did a guest appearance in the 1990 sitcom ‘Cheers’.
Awards & Achievements
In 1972, she received a Tony Award for ‘Best Actress in a Musical’ for her amazing performance in the Broadway musical ‘Follies’.
In 1979, she earned a Tony Award nomination for her portrayal of the leading lady, Lila Halliday, in the musical ‘Platinum’.
She also earned an Emmy Award nomination for her guest appearance on the NBC sitcom ‘Cheers’ in 1990.
Personal Life & Legacy
On June 18, 1944 she married Craig Stevens, an American actor, who was also under contract at Warner Bros. Their mutual friend and actor, Errol Flynn, was the best man at their wedding held at the Church of the Recessional, Forest Lawn. They remained married for almost 50 years until her death.
She passed away on June 9, 1993, a day after her 72nd birthday, due to brain cancer in Los Angeles, California. Her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered over the Pacific. Her husband remained a widower until his death in 2000.