Gloria Dickson's Story


Gloria Dickson was one of the most promising starlets of the 1930s but tragedy would cut her career and her life short. She 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. The family lived at 72 Rosewood Avenue in Pocatello and Gloria attended Lincoln grammar school. She developed a close bond with her father who taught her how fish and ride horses. Gloria was devastated when he 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.