Gloria Dickson Profile

Gloria Dickson
Gloria Dickson
Photo of Gloria Dickson
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(Thais Alalia Dickerson)
13 August 17 is born in Pocatello, Idaho, the second daughter of a banker, Fred Dickerson, and his wife, Emma Starrett. She is named Thais after her parents heard Mary Garden sing that opera. Her older sister is named Doris.
develops a close bond with her father. They share a love of nature and spend holidays in the mountains horseback riding and trout fishing.
knows from an early age that she wants to be an actress. Her parents, both interested in the arts, are very supportive and give her every opportunity with lessons, including diction and poise. The Dickersons set aside a portion of their basement as a stage so that Gloria can develop her craft in front of friends and neighbors.
29 her father is killed in an auto accident; Gloria takes his death especially hard, vows never to learn to drive a car—and never does
30 her mother moves with her two daughters to Long Beach, California
Mid-30s performs dramatic readings at social clubs and on KFOX radio station in Long Beach
35 graduates from Polytechnic High School, majoring in dramatics
? joins the Wayside Colony Players in Long Beach
35 tours with the Hart Players, a tent show troupe, in performances that run the gamut, from Shakespeare to modern
April 36 auditions for the Federal Theaters Project, a government-sponsored organization designed to promote young talent, at the Los Angeles Mason Opera House. She is accepted and moves to Los Angeles.
36 is on stage for four weeks with the lead part of Diane in Seventh Heaven at the Mason Theatre in Los Angeles
36 is on the LA stage with leads in Smilin Through and The Devil Passes. She makes from $1.50 to $2.50 per performance in the WPA-sponsored plays.
November 36 is spotted by Warner Brothers talent scout Max Arnow while performing in The Devil Passes and is signed to a Warner contract. Her name is changed to Gloria Dickson.
Late 36 / early 37 attracts the attention of Warner Brothers talent scout Irving Kumin during her performance in The Devil Passes. He leaves his business card on her dressing table. It is said she tosses it in the wastebasket. Kumin, very impressed with the young actress, is persistent and arranges a screen test.
Two days after her screen test, she is signed to a three-year, $200-a-week contract at Warner Brothers; her name is changed to Gloria Dickson. She says, "Mother and I could hardly believe that I was suddenly really an actress. It had been my only ambition ever since I could remember. It seemed that all my dreams had come true when we moved to Los Angeles and I went to work studying parts, rehearsing one role during the day and playing another at night. I didn’t give a thought ever to playing in pictures. I didn’t have time!"
37 meets famed makeup artist Perc Westmore on her first day on the Warner lot
37 is offered the role of a lifetime, the female lead part of Sybil Hale in They Won’t Forget. The powerful film is a hit, and Gloria’s star rises. Jack Warner praises his new star at the film’s premiere. About winning the role she says: “I was so happy I could hardly speak. I felt as if Christmas, my birthday and the Fourth of July had all come together with sound effects.”
August 37 “I save some of my money but not much. I’m living in a small home now with my mother, and I run my own roadster to and from the studio. So far, I haven’t gone in for any of the larger expenditures like buying a boat or building a swimming pool. The small things mount quickly enough.” She wants “a house full of clothes.” ”Clothes are my worst extravagance and costume jewelry’s my secret sorrow and little cross. I can’t seem to keep from buying it, but I never wear it.”
August 37 pays no attention to diet. “Why should I? she asks. “I weigh only 113 pounds, and I just love big thick steaks and almost any type of seafood.”
August 37 Sinclair Lewis is her favorite author, with Charles Dickens running a close second. The essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Elbert Hubbard and Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” also receive honorable mention for a position among gray-eyed Gloria’s literary loves.
August 37 she has no pet at the moment but is searching for the right kind of Scotch collie
August 37 to keep fit, she takes long walks, swims, plays tennis and rides horseback. She likes to go to polo matches, football games and professional tennis matches. Table tennis is her choice for indoor sports.
August 37 likes violets and gooey desserts, hates prize fights and playing bridge and is looking forward to the time she can afford a mountain lodge. Her favorite color is blue.
August 37 “It’s a funny thing, I was always afraid when I walked out onto the stage at school. My throat would get dry and my heart would pound like a hammer. I felt as if every one of these faces that made up the white blur beyond the footlights was just waiting to criticize me. Then, suddenly, it would all change. I’d start speaking my liens and I’d forget about the people. The next thing I’d notice would be the applause. It always seems to break over me like a golden wave.”
20 September 37 still prefers her real name over her stage name
37 hers is the first natural color photo to be transmitted by International News Pictures from Hollywood to the East Coast
October 37 receives film offers from many studios, but Jack Warner won’t consent. He agrees to her appearing on the New York stage in Wise Tomorrow. The praise she receives from critics and the patrons is one of the highlights of her life.
Winter 38 returns to Hollywood with high hopes for her career
9 January 38 accompanies Perc Westmore on his tour of New York television studios
25 January 38 Louella wants to be the first to announce that “Gloria Dickson and Perc Westmore have set June 9 as the date of their marriage. He will be legally free then.”
3 February 38 George Ross reports in his column from New York: “…The mournful parade also includes Gloria Dickson, a blonde beauty who had been given a big build-up for stardom in the film colony and then was brought here to celebrate her acting skill in a play called Wise Tomorrow. An aptly named play, because it never got beyond a first performance. And the blonde beauty, too, returned to the Klieg lights and the grinding cameras, chastened by her footlight experience.”
21 February 38 she and Perc are spotted daily shopping for modernistic furniture to fill their house after their June wedding
24 February 38 she is one of six contract players at Warners who Jack L. Warner says will make great strides towards stardom this coming year. The other five are Jane Bryan, Patrick Knowles, Priscilla and Rosemary Lane, and Marie Wilson.
38 makes four B films
2 April 38 is photographed feeding apples and carrots to the cinnamon bears at the Los Angeles Zoopark; she also brought with her 200 pounds of fresh meat and boxes of fruits and vegetables. The animals ate heartily for the first time since the serious floods of early March. Donations from motion picture studios, schools and individuals came pouring in until William J. Richards, zoo manager, said the total was more than $2000. He said $5000 was needed. Telegrams from Atlanta, Memphis, Duluth, Chico and Stockton offering to take over the zoo were received. Zoopark is not a city park; it is operated by the California Zoological Society, and it supplies trained animals for motion pictures. It was from the movies that most of the financial aid came. Deanna Durbin gave $50 and enlisted contributions from Charlie McCarthy, Alice Brady, Danielle Darrieux, John Boles, Andy Devine and others at her studio. Kathleen Williams, former silent star, whose "Adventures of Kathleen" thrillers were filmed at Zoopark, campaigned for funds. Richard Dix was reported to have collected nearly $1000 at his studio. So the several hundred birds and animals which the Humane Society said Thursday it might have to put to death were eating Friday.
9 April 38 Paul Harrison reports that “Gloria Dickson and Perc Westmore, and Frances Langford and Jon Hall are saving up to buy licenses.”
5 June 38 says she’s hoping Perc will take her to Honolulu for their honeymoon
18 June 38 18 June 38 marries Percival “Perc” Harry Westmore in Santa Barbara, California, with relatives and a few close friends in attendance. It’s her first marriage and his third. They two have a lot in common, including a love of the great outdoors. They honeymoon in Ensanada, Mexico.
38 Westmore, a notorious womanizer and partygoer, is very controlling and jealous. He insists Gloria have her nose reconstructed with plastic surgery in hopes of her getting femme fatale roles; it drastically changes her looks. Although she complies with his requests, she does not share his visions for her career, and their marriage is a rocky one. One of Westmore’s bad habits, heavy drinking, is picked up by Gloria.
12 August 38 catches a 632-pound shark
15 August 38 is an enthusiastic cook and shares her recipe for baked eggs with paprika sauce with newspaper readers across the country. It’s a favorite Sunday breakfast dish at the Westmore house.
31 August 38 the radiator cap on Perc Westmore’s car is a statuette of his wife
14 September 38 Paul Harrison is on the set of They Made Me a Criminal and "I found that a window in one of the walls built on the sound stage offered the best view of a scene being played by John Garfield, Gloria Dickson and some of the Dead End kids. Soon I was joined by Perc Westmore, head of the makeup department and husband of the actress. We watched several unsuccessful takes of a different scene that was supposed to end in a tender cinch between Miss Dickson and Garfield. The latter finally came to the window and said, ‘Perc, please get away from there. I can’t make love to a gal while her husband is peeking though a window at us.’ But Westmore wouldn’t move. We both moved, though, when an irate cameraman told us we were in the scene. And sure enough we were—reflected by a mirror on the opposite wall of the set. If any of the earlier takes had been approved, astonished audiences would have noticed a couple of complete strangers peeking through a window and smirking at a heavy love scene. Westmore told me later that he wasn't in very high favor with his wife anyway. Before going on a recent vacation trip, Miss Dickson wrote an order assigning him the exclusive right to collect her pay check. Returning a couple of weeks later, she discovered that she couldn't collect her own money; the assignment was irrevocable except with his consent. And, for a gag, he has refused to surrender the letter."
17 September 38 has a scratch all the way across the front of her tummy, the result of a 230-pound swordfish pinking her as it was being dragged into the boat. The accident happened off Catalina and had been the talk across the Warner lot.
19 September 38 she and Perc Westmore can be discovered once a week dining in the Biltmore at the same table where their romance began. This week she’s glorious in a chalk rose crepe gown with clusters of silver leaves in her hair.
30 September 38 is very unhappy; she lost the diamond bracelet that Perc gave her for a wedding present
10 October 38 newspaper readers are asked to vote as to which of their favorite Warner Brothers film stars should play the title role in the upcoming Jane Arden film because studio executives are having a hard time deciding. Only those readers of papers which carry the popular comic strip can vote. Besides Gloria, those in contention are Jane Bryan, Jane Wyman, Janet Shaw, Marie Wilson, Ann Sheridan and Rosella Towne, who will eventually be chosen.
16 October 38 even the $450 rod-and-reel her husband gave her didn't help her fishing score. Still 0 to 0.
23 October 38 a swimming party costs her a small fortune—she forgets to take off her $200 watch
28 October 38 as a result of her work in They Made Me a Criminal, she is given a new term contract by Warner Brothers; it is awarded on the basis of projection room “rushes” of the unfinished picture.
24 November 38 a composite of movie stars Ann Sheridan, Olivia De Havilland, Gloria Dickson, and Priscilla Lane, represents Chicago architects' idea of the "screenlined" girl to be chosen queen of the architects' ball
25 November 38 she and Perc wear identical suits, only his hasn’t a skirt
30 November 38 shows off the new “up-down” coiffure that Per created for her
17 December 38 comes home from a personal appearance tour so ill that she’s ordered to bed
23 December 38 holds a “29” hand, the ambition of all cribbage players, in a game with her husband
December 38 The House of Westmore hosts its annual lavish Christmas party for employees and their family members. Perc dances with Ola Hall. The two are in love; Ola will become his fourth wife. Gloria suddenly smashes her highball glass and rams the sharp edges into Perc’s face. Blood pours down his cheeks.
31 December 38 she, Perc and the Ian Hunters will spend the New Year’s at a desert house party
5 January 39 makes a New Year’s resolution: “I really am determined to quit fussing with my hair. I’ve got a mania to try this rinse and that to get varying tones and shades. It's a lot of nonsense and a waste of time. I'm going to quit it."
24 January 39 she and her husband switch apartments to get away from the Hollywood street noises
39 makes six films for Warner Brothers
13 February 39 makes floral earmuffs for friends back in Idaho. The velvet discs, completely covered with such tiny flowers as rosebuds or violets, are decorative as well as useful for street or formal wear.
27 March 39 she and Marie Wilson, due on a set, excitedly try to get somebody to care for a hungry-looking mongrel
1 April 39 she and Perc are aboard the Warner Brothers Special. It carries Warner Brothers stars and contract players to Dodge City, Kansas, for the premiere of Warner’s Dodge City.
10 April 39 is pleased when critics adjudge her Hollywood's most perfect blonde, but moans that every true blonde must pay for compliments with a rigid beauty routine
20 April 39 hooks a huge fish off the Catalina coast. Luckily, a candid cameraman snaps a shot of her hauling it in, in case anyone on the lot might doubt her word.
24 April 39 takes it easy after a severe appendicitis attack
4 May 39 Milton Harker gets it first hand: “If it could be said truthfully gorgeous Gloria Dickson were jealous of husband Perc Westmore's two custom-built gorillas, this would make a perfect Hollywood story. Only that would be a gross misstatement, even for a town which once duly chronicled (tsk! tsk!) that Charlie McCarthy had busted up a romance between Edgar Bergen and Judy Canova. The actual fact of the matter is that Gloria wishes Perc, one the world's greatest creative makeup artists, would get rid of the gorillas. The reason—she feels with a bride's natural worriment that the normal manifold demands upon his genius drain enough his energy without him making gorillas that look more like gorillas than gorillas as a hobby. Gloria admitted frankly today that she didn't worry so much about Perc's two present 6 foot 4 specimens, Grayback and Rusty, until Perc suggested between soup and a nice steak the other night that he now feels constrained to build a super colossal gorilla. ‘No one knows as well as I do how much Perc has to do or how hard he works on anything he is treating. Of course, making gorillas has been a hobby for Perc. I remember how hard he worked on those two, even at night. He'd sit there at home and while I knitted, Perc would paste hair on the gorillas. The only trouble is that even after a gorilla is made it needs a great deal of care, because the hair keeps coming off and all those kinds of things…’”
13 May 39 steps out at Grace Hayes Lodge with her husband and his brother Buddy and Judy Starr
16 May 39 she and John Garfield are among the gourmets at Henry Armetta’s Italian “feed”
1 June 39 attends the horse show at the Riviera Country Club, where she is spotted by May Mann chatting with Dorothy Lamour
3 June 39 she and Rosemary Lane hold regular ice-skating races at the open air rink in Westwood
11 June 39 is the surprised recipient of a complete seafood dinner air-expressed to her by a Baltimore fan
27 June 39 appears on a nationwide radio broadcast with other actors and actresses to try to convince the U.S. Congress to continue funding the federal theater project as a permanent institution. Lionel Barrymore was brought to the radio studio in a wheelchair. Also on the air are Edward Arnold, James Cagney, Dick Powell, Joan Blondell, Walter Abel, Edward G. Robinson, Al Jolsen, Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Ralph Bellamy, and Gale Sondergaard.
23 July 39 "Monday morning swimming pool eyes" go on Hollywood studio lists of "don'ts" to take place with orders against too much sun bathing, flying, no picnicking where there may be poison ivy, etc., etc. The new edict is against overindulgence in swimming pools on Sunday afternoons, practically the only time of the week, save early mornings, when players working in pictures can enjoy the sport in the pools of their Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Brentwood estates. Water in all such pools is highly chlorinated, and chlorine in over-doses inflames the eyeballs, makes them susceptible to light burns on the following Monday. It was this trouble, first diagnosed as "Klieg Eyes," that took her out of On Your Toes recently. She had gone swimming the day before in a neighbor's pool.
30 July 39 says every girl should have a certain amount of dramatic training whether she seeks an acting career or not. It results, says she, in the acquisition of poise.
1 August 39 she and Jane Wyman are photographed bowling; it’s great exercise
6 August 39 one of California’s lures is the warm sunshine, which is advertised by the chamber of commerce. However to avoid sunburn, blonde actresses are cheating the sun — and wistful tourists— by swimming at night in the Pacific. She dips in the dark at Malibu Beach—betraying not only the sun and the chamber of commerce, but also her husband, who feels that she is chiseling because her sun-dodging eliminates her as a customer for his unguents and treatments.
8 August 39 lunches at the Brown Derby wearing a linen ensemble comprising strawberry-red full skirt, tuck-in blouse of soft egg-shell and topped by a bolero in royal blue. Her doeskin pill-box is of the egg-shell color with matching gloves. The fashionable actress is a favorite to model the latest fashions in newspapers and movie magazines throughout the early part of her career.
9 August 39 fish were biting so well out past Catalina last week that she caught one with an empty vanity case as bait
10 September 39 people who compliment her on her new hat are directed to same dollar bargain counter where she purchased it
11 September 39 to get the most favorable colors in her wardrobe, she hits upon a novel plan. She studies portraits, noting only the ones painted by recognized masters of women of her coloring. In the course of her research she discovered that Renoir combined navy and a dash of pink. Herman Tom-Ring teamed smoky blue and soft rose. Samuel Shelley used his most delicate inks, blues and lilac tints when he painted blondes. On one of his most famous miniatures Hans Holbein painted a rusty dress on a golden blonde. Fragonard frequently used amber. Sir Joshue Reynolds showed her the charm of misty grey. When given a wardrobe test for the picture On Your Toes, it was found that by careful study she had uncannily picked out nearly every shade and combination of colors that were right for her. The colors she wears in the film coincide almost exactly with those she features in her personal wardrobe. The best hues for her extremely fair skin, blue eyes, and golden hair seem to be black, rust, the softest members of the blue and green family, pale pink, greyed rose tones, and wines.
14 September 39 Warners sends some of its young featured players, including her, on a junket up and down the West Coast, ending at Oakland’s Esquire theater, their home under recent agreement with the Laws-Blumenfeld chain, to celebrate the premiere of The Old Maid. Also included are Lya Lys, Ronald Reagan, John Payne, Lucille Fairbanks, Jane Gilbert, James Stephenson, William Lundigan, Rosella Towne, Barbara Pepper, Claire Windsor, and Jean Parker. They arrive in Oakland and are met at the train station with pomp and circumstance. They are given an official welcome at City Hall, take a motor tour of the city, and attend a luncheon at Hotel Lake Merritt. At 2:00 p.m., the stars make the first of two personal appearances at the theater, returning to their rooms at the Hotel Leamington for tea and then a subsequent appearance at the theater. Afternoon and evening entertainment consists of a visit in secret to the practice of the Bears at Edwards Field in Berkeley and a dinner at the Claremont Hotel. They depart the next day from the 16th Street station at 8:00 a.m. for Hollywood.
18 September 39 Louella shares: “Gloria Dickson and Ronald Reagan have been knocking them cold all along the coast in their performance in conjunction with The Old Maid. It is so good they may head East with it.”
20 September 39 gives Charles G. Sampas a blow-by-blow description of her battle with a tuna on a recent weekend fishing trip
26 October 39 pummels a brash young man at a Portland, Oregon, theater, who tried to pluck a handful of hairs from her silver fox scarf and explained he was only seeking a souvenir. A bruise on the man's left cheekbone from a motorcycle officer was that enthusiast's souvenir. She declined to sign a formal police complaint against him.
4 November 39 is spotted borrowing a lipstick at the Roaring Twenties premiere
Early 40 with her career going nowhere, she leaves Warner Brothers
4 January 40 Hollywood censorship decrees there shall be no still pictures showing legs “without good reason.'' So movie still photographers have become geniuses at finding reason. For example, a photo of her shows good reason—“Girl Wears Bathing Suit.”
14 January 40 separates from Perc Westmore
18 January 40 Perc Westmore bids her adieu at the station; she’s leaving on a personal appearance tour of the East
29 February 40 The Los Angeles Examiner says that she has been missing since last Thursday and that her husband, her mother and friends are concerned over her absence. Her husband is quoted as saying that she telephoned from New York last Thursday that she was ill, was leaving at once for Hollywood and would arrive Monday. When she failed to arrive, Westmore was quoted as saying he checked with the Essex Hotel in New York and found that she had left, presumably for Hollywood, Thursday night. The newspaper says Westmore added that he and his wife, who had been making a personal appearance tour, had had a “serious disagreement."
29 February 40 is reported in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she drops back stage at the Stuart to say hello to a fellow Hollywood performer, Cliff Edwards. She heard he was in Lincoln and thought it would be nice to see a Hollywood face. She goes unnoticed in Nebraska because her introductions are in the name of Thais Dickerson, and her hair has been colored reddish-brown. After visiting with Edwards, she boards the train to continue her trip back home.
1 March 40 a railway report puts Perc Westmore at ease. Union Pacific railway officials said "Miss Dickerson" boarded a west-bound train, the streamliner City of Los Angeles, at Omaha early today, using “Miss Dickson's” ticket.
2 March 40 in Ogden, Utah, aboard a Los Angeles-bound train, she sights reporters, runs into an empty room and closes the door. Later, she leaves the train for a walk on the platform and asserts with emphasis: “I am not lost. I never have been lost. The whole, thing is absolutely ridiculous. My family, my friends, everyone who should have known, knew where I was. I did not do just as I was supposed, to, and all the rest is my husband's silly idea." When asked if she were on her way to explain everything to her husband, the actress gave a negative answer, but admitted she was going to her home. "I stopped in Lincoln, Nebraska, to see no one," she actress declares when asked if she had stopped to see Cliff Edwards, Hollywood actor who was on a personal appearance tour, and who was reported traveling to Los Angeles on the same train. She uttered an emphatic “No" when asked if there is a new romance in her life.

3 March 40 Westmore flies to Las Vegas to meet her train. She said she didn’t know she was “missing” until she read it in the newspapers in Omaha. “It was a stupid thing to happen. It was a terrible misunderstanding,'' she said. Concerning a reported romance with Cliff Edwards, comedian, who also was on the train, the she said "there is no basis for bringing him into this. I am going home for a while. How long I shall stay remains to be seen.'' Westmore was uncommunicative. She posed for photographers in the observation car before leaving the train.
7 March 40 announces she will divorce her husband but will delay her trek to Reno until she finishes filming I Want a Divorce
20 March 40 Dorothy Kilgallen pens: “Cliff Edwards is haunting Gloria Dickson, the film beauty.”
30 March 40 tells Paul Harrison: “I shouldn't have married him in the first place. It was just one of those things. Perc was having trouble arranging his material for a radio show, and I knew quite a bit about radio, and I helped him, and we went on from there. I felt he needed me, and I'm the sort or person who has to be needed.” She still is upset over his publicity stunt of having her reported missing. While the story was breaking, he was telephoning her frequently in Pittsburgh.
Early 40s her turbulent private life and drinking take a toll on her looks. She has gained weight and looks much older than her years.
2 April 40 the McMillan Publishing Company—which used to concentrate on literary classics—is dickering with her for book rights to a compilation of her fan mail
April 40 begins production of I Want a Divorce and is romantically linked with the film’s director, Ralph Murphy, who is twenty-two years her senior
25 April 40 she and Ralph Murphy are a happy twosome spotted dining at the House of Murphy
27 April 40 she heads for Reno next week
1 May 40 Perc Westmore (with Martha Scott) exchanges chilly nods with her as they meet at Ciro’s
10 May 40 Louella spots her doing the night spots with Ralph Murphy and mentions, “She has put on pounds and will have to watch her weight.”
15 May 40 place your bets with Jimmy Fidler: “Night spot regulars offering two-to-one Gloria Dickson Yumates with Director Ralph Murphy when she's finaled—and no takers.”
17 May 40 files her divorce papers using her legal name, Thais Dickerson. She charges extreme cruelty, which she said had “subverted” their marriage.
19 May 40 19 May 40 Hollywood's first heat prostration victim of the year, premature as it may seem, was recorded today when Gloria Dickson, filming I Want a Divorce, collapsed, while working in a difficult scene on location at Monrovia. She was required to stand in the sun, hatless, for lengthy series of "takes." When she fainted the thermometer on nearby farmhouse was registering 95 degrees. She was treated by a company nurse in attendance and ordered home by Director Ralph Murphy.
20 June 40 on her second wedding anniversary, she wins her divorce from Perc Westmore on grounds of cruelty. She testified he worried her by keeping check on all her activities. "On one occasion when I was on a personal appearance tour," she informed Superior Judge Georgia Bullock, "he reported that I was lost, which resulted in widespread publicity and proved embarrassing to me." She said he objected to her being away from home, even going on movie locations.
17 August 40 goes into the hospital for a major operation
26 August 40 on the Tear Gas Squad set she takes her first horseback ride. She is frightened of horses and agrees to mount the "beast," as she describes it, only because it is a necessary part of the film. “It’s really very simple,” says Director Terry Morse, “and there’s nothing to be afraid of.” Her reply: “Never mind the small details; just show me where the brakes are.”
8 September 40 Louella “couldn’t have been more surprised than to see Gloria Dickson and Perc Westmore sitting tête-à-tête at dinner. It looks to me as if there might be a reconciliation. Perc has lost 50 pounds since he and Gloria parted and looks as young as his brother Buddy. Gloria, too, has taken off weight and is much more attractive. Whether or not the two of them will get together remains to be seen, but they have had several visits and telephone calls and they have seven months to make up their minds before the divorce becomes final.”
15 September 40 the first useful purpose ever served by fan mail since the movies began was reported today by Gloria Dickson. For three years she has received a letter every week from a male admirer in Elmira, N. Y. These are the only fan letters she has ever personally answered. She answered them because they were, unlike the average fan letter, filled with good philosophy and intelligent observations. The writer simply wanted to talk to someone and selected Gloria because her screen appearance "indicates intellect," he said. So finely written are the letters she, having the fan's permission, is going to have them published in book form, in a volume to be called "To My Star.” The correspondent has never been to Hollywood or met her.
23 November 40 Robbin Coons pens: “Gloria Dickson was talking on the set of This Thing Called Love. She liked this part, a sort of tough glitter gal, but she was afraid it was too much like the tough glitter gals she'd been doing at another studio. She had talked the director into letting her dress up the part—she didn't want to get stuck in a rut.”
2 January 41 Columnist Paul Harrison says that the past year, leap year 1940, was a year in which most leaping was done to the divorce courts—“never before, not even during its wildest, jazz age adolescence, has Hollywood hung up such a sorry record…Gloria Dickson said Perc would telephone her every morning at 1:00 o’clock and this interfered with her rest…”
13 January 41 a scene from Columbia’s This Thing Called Love that shows Binnie Barnes in panties and bra, her outer garments having been torn off by Gloria Dickson, is so objectionable to Binnie and her husband Mike Frankovich, former football star now radio sports announcer, that Barnes has threatened the movie company with an injunction suit unless they remove it from the picture. She understood the scene would be in silhouette. Director Alexander Hall says he wouldn’t be surprised if her charges added up to a press agent stunt. Barnes claims most of her husbands fans are kids and what would they think?—he would not even advertise a beer!
7 March 41 Harrison Carroll lets it be known: “People working with Gloria Dickson in Chain Gang say that the blonde actress and Director Ralph Murphy definitely will wed in June, when she gets her final decree from Perc Westmore.”
14 March 41 Winchell agrees with Carroll: “When Perc Westmore's wife, Gloria Dickson, gets her final decree in June, Director Ralph Murphy will be her next groom, chums insist.”
21 March 41 ironic that she should have to operate a car for a sequence in Chain Gang. Fifteen years ago, after her father was fatally injured in a crash near Pocatello, Idaho, she promised that she never would learn to drive. And she didn't, either. They had to show her how to go through the motions for the picture.
April 41 This Thing Called Love is released. The film is condemned by the Legion of Decency and is banned in several countries, including Ireland and Australia.
10 October 41 in Reno she marries director Ralph Murphy for the second time. The earlier marriage occurred before her divorce was final.
42-45 makes five films, none of which advances her career
29 July 42 Jimmie Fidler observes: “Give Gloria Dickson the slightest inspiration and she’ll dash off a poem."
16 September 42 Louella announces: “I hear that Gloria Dickson who has been dieting and is much thinner, will have the femme lead in Power of the Press…”
42 realizes her second marriage is a mistake
February 43 legally separates from Murphy due to his wandering eye. He is linked to several women, including an actress under his direction, Ann Corio.
6 August 43 Harrison Carroll lets it be known: “…add to steady twosomes: Gloria Dickson, estranged wife of Director Ralph Murphy, and Bill Fitzgerald, a marine sergeant until his recent discharge.”
12 February 44 saying he caused her great mental shock, she sues film director Ralph Murphy for divorce. They married two years ago in Reno and have been separated for nearly a year.
44 makes one movie and does radio work
18 April 44 divorces Murphy on grounds of mental cruelty. During the court proceedings she testifies, "He wouldn’t come home for four or five days at a time. It made it difficult to establish a home at all. He told me he didn’t love me and wasn’t happy."
May 44 marries William Fitzgerald, who works at MGM, in Acapulco, Mexico. The native Southern Californian is an ex-Marine, former middleweight boxer, and former bodyguard to Jean Harlow. This marriage is her happiest. Fitzgerald fought under the name Billy Ryan and was given a medical discharge after he was wounded at Gavutu.
Summer 44 the Fitzgeralds rent a large home in West Hollywood from Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Toler. The hillside house, which overlooks the Sunset Strip, has large windows on the ground floor and small windows upstairs, feet above the ground.
4 October 44 Harrison Carroll spies her “minus 12 pounds and looking swell, at Charley Foy's.”
5 March 45 Louella imparts: “Gloria Dickson, whose career started so promisingly, has lost pounds and is ready to return to the screen.”
10 April 45 fails to keep an appointment with agent Leon Lance to discuss new film work. Lance is not concerned since he knows she has a reputation for tardiness and taking afternoon naps.
shortly after 2:00 p.m., one of Gloria’s neighbors smells what he thinks to be burning leaves, but he is not alarmed. Two hours later, he sees flames coming from the front of Gloria’s house. He runs to the house and sees flames shooting from the roof. A crowd has gathered. Five fire departments and Gloria’s husband rush to the scene. Unfortunately, it is too late. Fitzgerald tries to enter the house screaming, "My baby’s in there! I have got to get to my baby!" He has to be restrained.
Gloria’s body is found face down by a bathroom window. An autopsy reveals that she died of asphyxiation from inhalation of flames that seared her lungs. She suffered first- and second-degree burns over her entire body. Her lifeless pet boxer is found a few feet away.
it is theorized the fire began by an unextinguished cigarette that ignited an overstuffed chair on the main floor, while Gloria napped upstairs. Gloria's dog probably awakened her once the main floor was engulfed. The upstairs windows were too high to reach, and she tried to escape through the small bathroom window, but was overcome with smoke. She may have waited for an hour in the bathroom to be rescued.
11 April 45 a visibly upset Emma Dickerson visits the scene of the fire in hopes of finding some of her daughter’s personal possessions. Damage to the house is estimated at $22,500.00.
17 April 45 funeral services are held at 2:00 p.m. Internment is at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Section 2, Lot 18. She rests beneath a shady tree; her marker reads, "Thais A. Dickerson, My Baby, 1917 - 1945."
50 working as a long-haul truck driver, William Fitzgerald is arrested for desertion in time of war and serves time in a military brig in Plattsmouth, New Hampshire
51 Fitzgerald is dishonorably discharged
55 in a Reno ceremony, Fitzgerald marries a woman from Darr, Nebraska. The marriage ends in less than one month when she discovers he has been writing bad checks on her account. The last check, for thirty dollars (payable to Omaha’s Castle Hotel, a known location of prostitution), sends him to the Nebraska State Penitentiary for a five-year sentence.
5 May 58 Fitzgerald dies in prison from complications of venereal disease at age 47. His body is unclaimed and he is buried in the prison cemetery.
"Gloria Dickson: We Won’t Forget" by Dan Van Neste in Classic Images,,,, Albuquerque Journal, The Brownsville Herald, Capital Times, The Charleston Gazette, The Charleroi Mail, Chester Times, Chronicle Telegram, Cumberland Times, The Emporia Gazette, Evening Independent, Fitchburg Sentinel, Gastonia Daily Gazette, Hammond Times, The Hayward Daily Review, Herald Press, Hutchinson News Herald, Las Cruses Sun-News, The Lima News, Lowell Sun, Mansfield News Journal, The Nebraska State Journal, Nevada State Journal, New Castle News, The Oakland Tribune, Ogden Standard-Examiner, The Paris News, The Port Arthur News, Reno Evening Gazette, The Rhinelander Daily News, The Salisbury Times, The Salt Lake Tribune, San Antonio Daily Light, San Antonio Light, San Mateo Times, Syracuse Herald, Tipton Tribune, Tyrone Daily Herald, The Van Nuys News, Waterloo Daily Courier, Winnipeg Free Press, Wisconsin State Journal, The Zanesville Signal
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