Alice Jeanne Leppert was born on May 5, 1915, in Hell’s Kitchen, New York and was the third child of her Irish mother and German father. Despite the harsh image the name of her hometown creates for the imagination, her childhood was quite bright. Alice loved to sing and dance, which naturally led her to fall in love with show business early in her life.
Early is really an understatement. Alice really looked quite old for her age and at 13, she landed a spot in “Earl Carroll’s Vanities”–that is until she let her age slip and the company gave her walking papers. A year later she was in a Broadway chorus line.
It was not until she had a spot on a weekly radio show for Fleischmann’s Yeast starring Rudy Vallee, that she really got a start towards fame. Of course, it took a car accident (in Vallee’s car) and a three week hospital stay for Vallee to realize that he really had something in Alice. So, when he went to Hollywood to film “The George White Scandels,” Alice came too and was an instant success.
As Techicolor came into play, Faye would continue to be one of the top players at Fox. Musicals like That Night In Rio, Weekend In Havana, and The Gang’s All Here, really showed how beautiful Faye was in glorious technicolor.
The reason Alice left Fox is a little blurry. There are two stories concerning why she left Fox. The first being that she was disgusted that Zanuck and Fox would favor Linda Darnell, when she saw the edited version of “Fallen Angel.” The second is that she had a major dispute with Zanuck and did not even go back to her dressing room to take her belongings back. It is known that Zanuck did try to bring her back with no success.
As a result, Alice teamed up with new husband Phil Harris for The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show on radio. The show was a hit and Alice would make cracks at Zanuck on the air in fun.
Alice was content to rise above her feud with Zanuck and raise her two daughters. Faye even went back to Hollywood to do a remake of State Fair though she later wished she hadn’t, due to all the changes that had taken place in Hollywood at that time. Family was most important to Alice, so the drop from Hollywood was just a little bounce rather than a thud. Faye was happily married to Phil Harris until his death in 1995 (Faye had been married to Tony Martin for four years, before she married Harris). Alice died of stomach cancer in 1998, in Rancho Mirage, California.
Faye was and still is one of the brightest musical stars to come out of Hollywood and even Irving Berlin felt that if he really wanted a song to take off, he would have Alice Faye plug it for him. The wit, the beauty, and the voice of Alice Faye will never be forgotten because she owned herself so completely and so honestly. There will never be another Alice Faye.