Cinema: In Wonderland

  • Share
  • Read Later

(3 of 4)

Charlotte Virginia Henry was born in Brooklyn, brought up in Manhattan. When she was 9, she decided she wanted to be an actress. At 14, she contrived to get a part in the Manhattan production of Courage. The next year she persuaded her mother, separated from her father who is a surgical supplies agent, to take her to Hollywood. There she finished her schooling at the Professional Children's School, performed as Mary Jane in Paramount's Huckleberry Finn. For the next two years, she had few jobs. She was playing in a Pasadena Community theatre production of Growing Pains when another girl in the cast suggested that she apply to Paramount for the role of Alice. Only cynics who believe that nothing in the cinema industry is conducted honestly suppose that the fact that Charlotte Henry had worked for Paramount before was incontrovertible evidence that the result of the contest was prearranged. Says Charlotte Henry: "Once I had a very bad toothache. The dentist said it would have to come out. I had a sinking feeling and I began to hurt all over and I cried. That's just what happened when they told me I was going to play Alice."

As soon as she was selected for the part, she began to be badgered by writers for U. S., British, German, French, Italian, South American and Japanese cinemagazines. They discovered that she is five feet tall with blue eyes and flaxen hair worn down her back and tied with a ribbon; that she dislikes spinach, eats ham three times a day by preference; owns a Pekinese dog named Puddles; thinks boys talk too much; admires Rudy Vallee; considers rain lucky; that her diversions are scribbling on blackboards, reading detective stories, swimming, golf; that her nickname is Chotsie; that she has no favorite cinema star; that the first thing she does when she enters a room is to switch on the radio. More significant than such personal trivia is Charlotte Henry's childish refusal to be impressed by the public curiosity which elicited them. Said she: "It's the part of Alice, not me, that's causing all the attention."

During the two months that Alice in Wonderland was in production, she worked from eight to 16 hours per day with no days off, wore out 12 costumes, got hit by pots and plates in a scene with the violent Duchess, hurt her ankle jumping off the mantlepiece. Started two weeks late, the picture was finished two days ahead of schedule. Charlotte Henry and her mother, who staved away from the lot during the filming lest she be considered officious, were released from studio routine for a 30-day tour of the 20 largest cities where Alice is to be shown. Last week, the Henrys visited Kansas City, Washington, Manhattan, Boston, Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, Charlotte was disappointed because she just missed a touring Civic Repertory performance of Alice hi Wonderland. In Washington she lunched with House Speaker and Mrs. Henry T. Rainey.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4