Ross Alexander (born Alexander Ross Smith; July 27, 1907 – January 2, 1937) was an American stage and film actor.
Alexander was born Alexander Ross Smith in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Maud Adelle (Cohen) and Alexander Ross Smith. His maternal great-grandfather Morris Cohen was a Polish Jewish immigrant.
His father was a leather merchant. Alexander grew up in Rochester, New York, where his family moved soon after he was born. When he was 17, he went to New York City and studied acting at the Packard Theatrical Agency.
Alexander began his acting career with the Henry Jewett Players in Boston, debuting in Enter Madame. By 1926, he was regarded as a promising leading man with good looks and an easy and charming style and began appearing in more substantial roles.
His Broadway credits include The Party’s Over (1932), Honeymoon (1932), The Stork Is Dead (1932), After Tomorrow (1931), That’s Gratitude (1930), Let Us Be Gay (1928), The Ladder (1926), and Enter Madame (1920).
Alexander was signed to a film contract by Paramount Pictures, and his film debut in The Wiser Sex (1932) was not a success, and so he returned to Broadway. In 1934, he was signed to another film contract, this time by Warner Bros. His bigger successes of the period were A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Captain Blood (both 1935).
In 1936, he starred in Hot Money. It was a defining role in his persona as a glamorous, well-dressed and dapper leading man, not in the usual Warner gangster mold of rough-hewn stars such as Edward G. Robinson or Paul Muni. Ready, Willing and Able, his final film, was released posthumously.
Alexander married actress Aleta Freel on February 28, 1934, in East Orange, New Jersey. Freel committed suicide on December 7, 1935, shooting herself in the head with a .22 rifle. On September 17, 1936, Alexander married actress Anne Nagel, with whom he had appeared in the films China Clipper and Here Comes Carter (both 1936).
On January 2, 1937, three months after marrying Nagel, with his professional and personal life in disarray and deeply in debt, Alexander shot himself in the head in the barn behind his home. Although it has been reported that Alexander used the same gun with which his first wife Aleta Freel shot herself he shot himself with a .22 pistol (not a rifle) but the death was otherwise parallel. He is buried in lot 292 of the Sunrise Slope section of Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, California.
|1932||The Wiser Sex||Jimmy O’Neill|
|1934||Social Register||Lester Trout|
|1934||Gentlemen Are Born||Tom Martin|
|1935||Maybe It’s Love||Rims O’Neil|
|1935||Going Highbrow||Harley Marsh|
|1935||We’re in the Money||C. Richard Courtney, aka Carter|
|1935||A Midsummer Night’s Dream||Demetrius|
|1935||Shipmates Forever||Lafayette “Sparks” Brown|
|1935||Captain Blood||Jeremy Pitt|
|1936||Boulder Dam||Rusty Noonan|
|1936||Brides Are Like That||Bill McAllister|
|1936||I Married a Doctor||Erik Valborg|
|1936||Hot Money||Chick Randall|
|1936||China Clipper||Tom Collins|
|1936||Here Comes Carter||Kent Carter||Alternative title: The Voice of Scandal|
|1937||Ready, Willing, and Able||Barry Granville||Released posthumously|