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Theatre Magazine, May 1913

Popular "Movie" Actress

[Omitted, Photo of Alice Joyce, 3/4 face, credited to "Cortwright." Caption: ALICE JOYCE, Leading Woman of the Kalem Motion Pictures]

PROMINENT among those players of the film drama who enjoy a paradoxical popularity--delighting daily as they do thousands of theatre-goers, and yet the sound of whose voices has never been heard--is Alice Joyce, the leading lady of the Kalem Motion Picture Company.

This young actress, whose personality in real life is just as sweet and wholesome as it looks on the screen, is not an easy person to interview. Unlike many of her sister artists, she shrinks from rather than courts publicity. One of her most noticeable characteristics is that she never talks about herself. Quiet and reserved, she doesn't talk very much about anything, but when she does she has something to say.

She began her career some six years ago as an artist's model. Later she became a photographer's model, which meant a wider field. Everyone was attracted by her photographs, which have been used over and over again all over the world. One day a photographer heard her say she could ride a horse, and when he became a Kalem camera man he sent for her. Practically her only riding experience had been with an old farm horse, who walked very calmly to the watering trough; but she scorned to admit any lack of ability when her chance came. She had said she could ride and she did--over a stretch of railroad ties with a wretched saddle. She was too excited to notice how often she fell off, but the next day she spent near the liniment bottle. The Kalem Co. signed a contract with her, and after a few months' work in New York sent her to California. She expected to be there two months, and was a little frightened at the idea of being away from her mother, yet awed with the prospect of seeing the wonderful West. The fact that she remained on the Pacific Coast nearly two years is an example of the uncertainties of the profession.

[omitted, photo (credited to Cortwright) of Joyce kneeling on a chair looking out of a window, wearing the white dress, gloves, and pearls around her head which are seen in several other photos and were her costume from The Artist's Sacrifice(1913)]

In the free- out-of-door life of the plains the young girl grew in many ways. She gathered poise and dignity as well as health and good looks. She left New York a pretty, timid little girl, and returned a beautiful, self-reliant woman. The California pictures, all taken out in the bright sunlight, brought out every line and curve in her face and form as no artificial light could do. At first she was not much of an actress, but it didn't seem to matter. Later, however, in some of the Indian pictures and the old Spanish legends, she showed real dramatic ability. The energy and skill she displayed when riding over the Sierra foothills and desert sands to rescue Carlyle Blackwell from so many perils meant hard work and perseverance. The rough costumes suited her as also did the Spanish and Indian dress. Of the artistic type, she looks most attractive when very simply or fantastically dressed. Much has been said in print about her making her own costumes. As a matter of fact it is very rarely that she wears her own creations for posing. But she is very much interested in having the correct dress for the period of the story and seldom trusts her own skill in working the costumes out.

On her return to New York last spring, she took a little apartment not far from the Studio and keeps house there all alone. Not that she is what is called a housewife. It was about a week after she moved in that she discovered the gas had not been turned on in the kitchen and absent-mindedly she allowed her pet wastebasket to be permanently swallowed up by the dumbwaiter. But it is a sweet little "Girly" house with a lot of picturesque things from California and Mexico about, and signed photographs of motion picture people on the walls. She likes being at home and looks beautiful in the soft, pretty clothes she wears there. She actually goes to bed early nearly every night in the week, although she isn't exactly the recluse one might imagine from some descriptions of her. She enjoys life as well as anyone, is very fond of going to the theatre and, like all motion picture players, rarely misses seeing a new "Release. Screen actors take the keenest interest in watching their own pictures and those of their friends and acquaintances. They know so many of the players intimately and understand so thoroughly the "business" of each film that they get much more out of the pictures than the ordinary spectator. For instance, there are little movements and gestures which to the film player have a very particular and definite meaning and, far from giving a stereotyped atmosphere to the acting, they are a great help in the illusion if properly done. Miss Joyce watches the films closely (her own pictures and those of others) in order to detect mistakes or profit by a better technique. She, too, has her favorites. Max Linders [sic] being one of them. "The only real comedian in the 'movies'" she calls him.

Seeing one's friends on the screen is also a great pleasure to film players. It helps out actors' mothers and other relatives to be able to see pictures of their kin when the actors are far away. One boy's mother goes to see his pictures at every performance and when they're shown in her town she feels their reality very strongly. After seeing one in which he had gone astray in business and had been helped out by another man, she wrote to her son, "I could have just hugged that old man when he gave you another chance."

Speaking of some new jewelry that she got not long ago, Miss Joyce said, "I have tried to show it off as much as possible in our last picture so that Jane can see it." "Jane" is Miss Wolf of the California Kalem Co. Miss Joyce has a frank, almost childish fancy for jewelry. She doesn't wear a great deal but she loves to have it and always notices any odd or artistic bit that anyone else wears.

One day a lot of letters came from the Kalem office when I was with Miss Joyce. I said something in a joking way about "mash notes" and she said, "Yes, but I could probably let you read any one of them." She is very proud of the fact that, among her admirers, the ones who write to her are nearly all women and little girls. The letters from little girls are very sweet. Some of them begin "My darling Alice," and all of them show real affection as well as admiration. At Christmas time people from all over the country sent her cards and remembrances and one little girl embroidered a handkerchief case in "A's" and sent it all the way from England. Some other little girl who sent a box of correspondence cards forgot to put her name in it and the actress is very sorry that she is unable to acknowledge it. The beautiful lace mantilla that she has worn in some of the Spanish pictures was the gift of a woman in Ohio who admired Miss Joyce in the films. All these things give her the greatest possible pleasure and, although it is impossible to answer every letter, she enjoys them, every one, and remembers the writer's name if she hears from her a year later. She has a very real and unusual appreciation for things done for her and enjoys a gift or any attention in proportion to the giver's sincerity.

It would be foolish to say that she does not realize he popularity. She does, but it has not turned her head. She seems always to realize that there is plenty of work ahead of her and plenty of competition. At the Kalem studio you are not immediately impressed with her importance as leading woman, but later you perceive that she doesn't lose any dignity by refraining from forcing her position upon her. She seems to be friends with everyone about the place because she really wants to be, not because she is trying to be democratic. She isn't at all in a class wit the actor who said "I'm different from most leading men. I speak to the 'extra people.'"

She has very sweet amiable manners and they come from her heart. She is cordial because she really likes people and tactful through a real consideration for others. The longer you know Miss Joyce the greater possibilities you see in her.

Mary Chamberlin.

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