Gloria's Death & Final Resting Place

On April 10, 1945 Gloria's life came to a tragic end. At the time she and her third husband Bill Fitzgerald were renting a two-story home, located at 1630 Haslom Terrace, from actor Sidney Toler. That afternoon Gloria was taking a nap in her bedroom. While she was sleeping a fire broke out on the first floor. The flames woke Gloria up and she tried to escape through a window in an upstairs bathroom. Sadly she suffered second degree burns and died from asphyxiation due to the smoke. She was found dead on the bathroom floor wearing her pink nightgown. Her beloved dog died just a few feet away from her. Gloria was only twenty-seven years old. Her husband Bill was not at home when the fire broke out. He arrived shortly after the fire department got there and tried to run in burning house. Bill was heard screaming "My baby’s in there! I have got to get to my baby!".

 Photos of Gloria's house after the fire

The fire had been caused by a lit cigarette that fell into an overstuffed chair in the rumpus room. Gloria's funeral was held on April 17 at Hollywood Forever cemetery. She was buried under a shady tree with a grave marker that reads "Thais A. Dickerson, My Baby, 1917 - 1945." After Gloria's death her widow Bill Fitzgerald started working as a truck driver. He was arrested in 1950 for "desertion in time of war" and served time in a military prison. In 1955 Bill married a woman in Reno, Nevada. One month after the wedding he was arrested for stealing checks from his new wife. Bill was sentenced to five years in the Nebraska State Penitentiary. On May 5, 1958 he died in prison from complications of a venereal disease. He was forty-seven years old.


How Gloria's Nose Job Changed Her Appearance

In 1938 Gloria had cosmetic surgery on her nose. She didn't want to have a nose job but her husband Perc Westmore convinced her to do it so she could play more glamorous roles. The surgery dramatically changed Gloria's face and she was unhappy about the way it made her look.

Before the nose job                                                                    After the nose job

In 1937                                                                                                     In 1943


* Gloria Dickson's Story *

Gloria Dickson was born Thais Alalia Dickerson on August 13, 1916, in Pocotello, Idaho. Her father Fred Dickerson was a banker and her mother Emma was a housewife. She had an older sister named Doris. Gloria attended Lincoln grammar school in Pocotello. She developed a close bond with her father who taught her how fish and ride horses. Gloria was devastated when her father was killed in a car accident in 1926. Soon after her mother moved Gloria and her sister to Long Beach, California. While attending Long Beach Polytechnic high school she started acting in plays. After graduating she got a job acting at the Federal Theater. She starred in the plays Seventh Heaven and Holiday. In 1936 a talent scout saw one of her performances and offered her a screen test. Producer Mervyn LeRoy signed Gloria to a three year contract at Warner Brothers for $200 a week.

For her first film she was given a leading role in the 1937 drama They Won't Forget. Her performance got rave reviews and the press called her the "luckiest girl in Hollywood". In October of 1937 she made her Broadway debut in Wise Tomorrow. Gloria's success continued with starring roles in Gold Diggers In Paris and They Made Me A Criminal. She married make-up artist Perc Westmore in 1938. He wanted her to be more glamorous and convinced her to have a nose job. After leaving Warner Brothers in 1940 she had supporting roles in the movies Mercy Island and The Big Boss. Gloria and Perc had a tumultuous marriage and they divorced in 1941. A few months later she married director Ralph Murphy who she had worked with on I Want A Divorce.

She signed a three picture deal with Republic Studios in 1942 and starred in the drama The Affairs of Jimmy Valentine. Gloria filed for divorce from Ralph in 1943. She claimed he had cheated and mistreated her. By this time she was thirty pounds overweight and had a serious drinking problem. Gloria made a few low budget films including Lady Of Burlesque but her career stalled. She married William "Billy" Fitzgerald, a Marine and former boxer, in the Summer of 1944. They rented a two story house in West Hollywood. Gloria started to lose weight and told her agent she wanted to make a comeback. On April 10, 1945 she was sleeping when the house caught on fire. She tried to escape but ended up trapped in a bathroom. Gloria suffered second degree burns and died from asphyxiation. She was only twenty-seven years old. Gloria was buried at Hollywood Forever cemetery.

Magazine Clippings

Here are some vintage magazine clippings featuring Gloria ...

With Ralph Murphy                                                                      
With Dennis Morgan

Pin-Up Pictures

When she was a young starlet Gloria posed for many pin-up pictures ...