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Ross Alexander
Born Alexander Ross Smith
July 27, 1907(1907-07-27)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died January 2, 1937 (aged 29)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1920–1937
Spouse(s) Aleta Freel (1934-1935)
Anne Nagel (1936-1937)

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

Contents

Early life

Born Alexander Ross Smith in Brooklyn, New York, Alexander began his acting career in Broadway productions during the 1920s. 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. He was signed to a film contract by Paramount Pictures but his film debut in The Wiser Sex (1932) was not a success, so he returned to Broadway. In 1934 he was signed to another film contract, this time by Warner Bros.

Career

Alexander was better suited to the Warner Bros. style of film, and the studio persevered with him, gradually increasing the stature of his roles commensurate with his growing popularity with film audiences. His biggest successes of the period were A Midsummer Night's Dream and Captain Blood (both 1935). He married actress Aleta Freel in 1934. The marriage ended the following year when Freel committed suicide on December 7, 1935.[1]

Alexander soon after married another actress, Anne Nagel with whom he had appeared in the films China Clipper and Here Comes Carter (both 1936). In 1936 he starred in an under-rated Warner comedy that was well written as a business venture type of film, Hot Money. It was a defining role in his persona as a glamorous, wore-clothes-well leading man, not in the usual Warner gangster mold of rough hewn stars like Edward G. Robinson or Paul Muni. Warner Bros. had decided by this time that Alexander's potential as an actor was limited, and that his personal problems did not allow him to focus completely on his career. Although they continued casting him in films, the importance of his roles was greatly diminished.

Death

With his professional and personal lives in disarray, and deeply in debt, Alexander shot himself in the head in the barn behind his home. Alexander used the same gun his wife Aleta Freel shot herself with two years earlier.[2] His final film, Ready, Willing and Able, was released posthumously.

Lou Cannon wrote in his book Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power that a young Ronald Reagan, then working as a radio broadcaster in Iowa, was hired in part by Warner Brothers to replace the recently deceased Alexander.[3]

Filmography

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

Footnotes

  1. ^ "Milestones". Time. 1935-12-07. 
  2. ^ Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus Press. pp. 38. ISBN 1-844-49430-6. 
  3. ^ Cannon, Lou (2003). Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power. PublicAffairs. pp. 49. ISBN 1-586-48030-8. 

References

  • Appleton, Wisconsin Post Crescent, Anne Nagel's Death Revives Old Mystery, August 29, 1966, Page 11.

External links

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