1932 was the occasion for an American visit by ALICE LIDDELL, Lewis Carroll's inspiration for his "Alice" stories. She came to these shores to take part in various centenary celebrations honoring Carroll's beloved tales. The photo o her here as a young girl was taken by JULIA MARGARET CAMERON, not only the first great female photographer, but one of the first photographers, period. She acquired her first camera in 1863, at the age of 48, as a gift from her daughter. Her subjects also included Alfred Lord Tennyson and Henry Longfellow.

The Alice Panic of The 1930s
(And some 1920s errata, including the mysterious, lost Alice of 1928)

In the United States "Alice" fever was rampant in the 1930s, the Betty Boop "Betty In Blunderland" cartoon being but one small example of the mania that had set in. In 1932 EVA LE GALLIENNE directed and starred in (as the White Queen) a Broadway version of Alice In Wonderland that included Burgess Meredith as the Doormouse, Howard Da Silva as a cook and Florida Friebus as a beetle voice and the Cheshire Cat. (Ms. Friebus would go on to acclaim much later as the comforting mom Winifred "Winnie" Gillis to her TV son Dobie on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. She also distinguished herself on the first Bob Newhart Show as the always-cheerful Mrs. Lillian Bakerman, who would knit during group therapy sessions.) In 1933 OLIVIA DE HAVILAND made her acting debut in the title role of Alice In Wonderland as staged by the Saratoga Community Players in California, and in 1933 came the wonderful Paramount Studios big budget, live action Alice, with W.C. Fields, Cary Grant and Gary Cooper, among others (see related story in this issue). Not least of all, Irving Berlin even wrote an "Alice In Wonderland" song in the ‘30s. Sample lyric:

Come take a peep at the queer-looking duchess
With the rabbit in her clutches
Which is just about as mauch as he can stand
There's Tweedledum, Tweedledee, hear them prattle
All about the broken rattle
Tweedledee has got a battle on his hands

Olivia de Haviland (Melanie Hamilton Wilkes in Gone With The Wind) played the title role in a 1933 production of Alice In Wonderland staged by the Saratoga (Calif.) Community Players, the play in which the teenage De Havilland made her acting debut.

alice-1983The Eva Le Gallienne version of Alice In Wonderland adapted for the Broadway stage in 1932 survives in a 1983 production preserved on video by the Broadway Theatre Archive. Its spectacular cast includes Richard Burton, his daughter Kate Burton as Alice, Colleen Dewhurst, James Coco, Eve Arden, Maureen Stapleton, Fritz Weaver, Kaye Ballard and, in one of his early roles, Nathan Lane as a most memorable, and timid, dormouse. A slam-dunk, right? Not exactly. Sir Richard is a bit too dry—no pun intended—as the White Knight, and though the other stars acquit themselves admirably, Kate’s Alice lacks the charm of Charlotte Henry’s 1933 Alice, and has none of the wry insouciance of 13-year-old Anne-Marie Mallik’s Alice in the 1966 Jonathan Miller version. Being rather flat as a character, Burton’s Alice is hard to connect with. Then there are the usual problems with the static nature of a filmed play—even clever wordsmithing can’t make up for the missing ambiance, not to mention striking visuals, of a theatrical film, and so it is here. Still, with a cast such as this, it’s worth every Alice fan’s time to check it out—stream it on Netflix, if nothing else. —David McGee

The Broadway Theatre Archive video of the stage play Alice In Wonderland is available at

And some Alice errata from the 1920s worth noting:

The 1923 WALT DISNEY Laugh-O-Gram, 'Alice's Wonderland,' a blend of live action and animation from the young Walt, who appears in the short. Alice is played by VIRGINIA DAVIS in the first of her many appearances in Disney's 'Alice' films, which are credited with making the struggling company solvent in time for Walt to introduce a popular new cartoon character named Mickey Mouse. Virginia Davis passed away in August 2009 and was remembered in's September 2009 issue,

A still from director WALTER LANG's 1928 silent film, Alice Through A Looking Glass. This most mysterious of all the Alice films has almost completely disappeared from history. Our attempts to track down cast listings proved fruitless, and no clips are available anywhere on the Internet as far as we've been able to determine. Director Lang had a distinguished career that lasted into the early '60s. Among the films he directed: There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), The King and I (1956), Desk Set (1957), Cheaper By the Dozen (1950), State Fair (1945), Can-Can (1960), The Marriage-Go-Round (1961), and, in 1961, going out on a high note, Snow White and the Three Stooges.

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
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