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            Alice Pearce

            Biografie

            Making a career out of a post-nasal drip, this scene-stealing character comedienne was one of the best Broadway and Hollywood had to offer. It's too bad, then, that she wasn't utilized in films more often for this slight, chinless, parrot-faced, squawky-voiced bundle of (kill)joy could draw laughs from a well with a mere sniffle, gulp, or stare.

            Plaintive Alice Pearce was born in New York City, the only child of a bank vice-president, but was raised in different European schools -- wherever her father had business. Eventually Alice settled back in NYC and began to gather experience in summer stock shows. She became a huge hit on the nightclub circuit which eventually paved the way to Broadway. She drew raves in the "New Faces of 1943" and was sensational in the role of Lucy Schmeeler, the sexless, adenoidal blind date, in the New York smash "On the Town" the very next year. As a testament to her talent, Alice was the only performer kept on board when Gene Kelly transferred the sailors-on-leave musical to film. Strangely, this did not lead to a slew of comedy vehicles, but Alice certainly sparked a number of fluffy films, even in the tiniest of roles -- never more so than as the hypochondriac patient who expounds on her physical ailments ad nauseum while overly-attentive Jerry Lewis suffers through a wrenching series of "sympathy pains" in The Disorderly Orderly (1964). It's slapstick comedy at its very best.

            TV proved an attractive medium for her as well, hosting her own variety show briefly in 1949. Her career ended on a high note as the nagging, irrepressibly nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz in the "Bewitched" (1964) sitcom. Ideally teamed with George Tobias as her hen-pecked husband, Abner, the two provided non-stop hilarity -- her frightened gulps, blank gaze and confused exasperation coupled with his dour disgust was comedy heaven. Sadly, Pearce developed ovarian cancer and died in 1966, only two seasons into the show. She was only 48. She quite deservedly won an Emmy trophy for her work a few months after her death. Hollywood lost a treasured talent in Alice Pearce, gone way before her time.

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