- Ross Alexander
name = Ross Alexander
caption = Ross Alexander
birthname = Alexander Ross Smith
27 July, 1907
Brooklyn, New YorkUSA
deathdate = death date and age|1937|1|2|1907|7|27
Los Angeles, CaliforniaUSA
spouse = Anne Nagel (1936-1937)
Aleta Friele (1934-1935)
Ross Alexander (
July 27, 1907– January 2, 1937) was an American film actor.
Born 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 Picturesbut 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 Brothers Studios.
Alexander was better suited to the Warner Brothers 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 an actress named
Aleta Freelin 1934. The marriage ended the following year when Freel committed suicide on December 7, 1935.In his biography of Bette Davis, "More Than a Woman", author James Spada writes of Alexander's infatuation with Davis that reached its height in 1936 with a series of love letters sent by Alexander to Davis. Davis, who knew Alexander to be homosexual,Fact|date=December 2007 at first found the attention amusing and harmless, and did not discourage it. As his attentions continued she found it annoying, and Alexander was eventually confronted by Davis' husband who assaulted Alexander. In his biography of Errol Flynn, "Satan's Angel" (2000), David Bretstates that on the set of "Captain Blood" (1935), during the bare-chested flogging scene, his alleged lover Errol Flynnloudly protested when director Michael Curtiz, fearful of incurring the wrath of the Hays Office, turned up on the set with a razor to cut off Alexander's exhuberant armpits which "turned him on like twin fannies". "Errol grabbed this, and threatened to slit the director's throat should he remove so much as one hair from Alexander's 'magnificent oxters', so the scene was left uncut, and received few complaints."Ross Alexander's first wife was an actress named Helen (last name unknown). They are shown on the 1930 US census as living in Manhattan. In a later interview with a movie magazine, he referenced this marriage, which ended in divorce, and stated they had one child, a daughter. It is rumored that he accepted his first studio contract, with Paramount, when they agreed to advance him the funds necessary to obtain his divorce.
Alexander soon after married another actress,
Anne Nagelwith 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 Robinson or Muni. Warner Brothers 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.
With his professional and personal lives in disarray, and deeply in debt, Alexander shot himself in the head in the barn behind his home. Ross used the same gun, a .22 caliber rifle, his wife
Aleta Freelshot herself with two years earlier. Yet there is still a mystery regarding the actor's motive for committing suicide. On the day after New Year's, 1937, Ross and Miss Nagel dismantled the Christmas tree in their Encino, Californiaranch home. They discussed their plans for the coming year and resolved to take a trip together. The actress testified at the coroner's inquest. She stated that her husband seemed happier on the day of his death than he had been in weeks. He was an expert shot and was used to handling firearms. He left no notes. However Anne said he had been writing poetry and tossing the crumpled paper into their fireplace. Police speculated a probable motive may have been grief over his first wife's death. The coroner's jury ruled he had taken his life with suicidal intent.
His final film, "Ready, Willing and Able," was released posthumously.
Appleton, WisconsinPost Crescent, "Anne Nagel's Death Revives Old Mystery", August 29, 1966, Page 11.
Reno, NevadaState Journal, "Movie Actor Kills Self", January 3, 1937, Page 1.
*imdb name|id=0018717|name=Ross Alexander
NAME= Alexander, Ross
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Smith, Alexander Ross
DATE OF BIRTH=
27 July, 1907
PLACE OF BIRTH=
Brooklyn, New YorkUSA
DATE OF DEATH= 1937-1-2
PLACE OF DEATH=
Los Angeles, CaliforniaUSA
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