Classic Movie Travels: Alice Terry
A silent film actress and director, Alice Terry’s made her mark as Marguerite in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) alongside Rudolph Valentino. Sporting a trademark blonde wig from that point on, Terry enjoyed additional starring roles, though her film career would end by 1933.
Alice Frances Taaffe was born on July 29, 1900, in Vincennes, Indiana. Her parents, Matthew and Ella, worked as barbers, and she had two older siblings: Edna and Robert. By age 15, she was working as an extra in films, making her debut in Not My Sister (1916), and also worked in cutting rooms for Famous Players-Lasky.
1921 would be a pivotal role for the actress. She would marry director Rex Ingram in this year, in addition to being praised for her role in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The couple married during the production of The Prisoner of Zenda (1922), which Ingram was directing. Terry appeared in the film as Princess Flavia. The couple married over a weekend in Pasadena, returning for work the following Monday, and left for their San Francisco honeymoon when filming was complete.
Terry’s appearance in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse served her well and led to additional starring roles in films like The Prisoner of Zenda (1922) and Scaramouche (1923). While Ingram cast her in leading roles, they proved to be unmemorable.
Terry and Ingram relocated to the French Riviera, forming a small studio in Nice and shooting various films on location in other countries. During a visit to Tunisia to film The Arab (1924), the couple adopted a boy who claimed to be orphaned; however, the boy misrepresented his age and was sent to Morocco to finish school. In reality, he never returned to school and his whereabouts are unknown.
Apart from her husband, Terry proved to be a strong actress in Any Woman (1925) and Sackcloth and Scarlet (1925) for Paramount Pictures. She also enjoyed working behind the scenes, gaining work as a director when Ingram would be upset with his cast and production, in addition to film editing. Ingram’s final film and sole sound feature Baroud (1933) credited Terry as a co-director.
Shortly after the advent of sound in films, Ingram and Terry retired, with Terry exploring painting as a hobby. Ingram passed away in 1950.
In the years that followed, Terry hosted parties and enjoyed social events on the town, dressing to the nines. She remained highly active and visible in society until her Alzheimer’s diagnosis. She passed away on December 22, 1987, in Burbank and is buried at Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. She was 87 years old.
Today, Terry is remembered on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with a star at 6628 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
By 1910, she lived at 707 ½ Maud Olive Greenberg in Los Angeles. Her father had passed away in 1907, and her mother was working as a barber. Seven years later, she lived at 1226 Cabrillo Canal in Santa Monica, California. In 1920, she lived at 632 Bixel St. in Los Angeles with her mother, as well as her sister, Edna, and brother-in-law, Gerald. She also resided at 501 Windsor in Los Angeles in 1940 and at 11566 Kelsey St. in Studio City, California. None of these homes remain.
Though there are very few tributes to Terry, her filmography can continue to be enjoyed.
–Annette Bochenek for Classic Movie Hub
Annette Bochenek pens our monthly Classic Movie Travels column. You can read all of Annette’s Classic Movie Travel articles here.
Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is a PhD student at Dominican University and an independent scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for Classic Movie Hub, she also writes for Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco SocietyMagazine.