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Charlotte Henry in 1934
Charlotte Henry in 1934
Charlotte Henry in 1934
Charlotte Henry in 1934
he actress for whom Hollywood's ''big break'' turned out so badly was born in Brooklyn on the third of March 1914.
Charlotte Henry began modelling at a very early age and was always fascinated by the theatre. Her family were astonished when, at only 15 years of age, she was cast in an important role in ''Courage'', a Broadway play and a hit of 1928.
     The following year, Charlotte's mother brought her to Hollywood. She repeated her part in the movie version of ''Courage'' 1930 and enrolled at Lawlors, the school for professional children. Some of her classmates were Frankie Darro, Anita Louise and Bette Grable.
Charlotte Henry in Lena Rivers      Junior Durkin, who had worked with her in ''Courage'', suggested Charlotte for a play he was appearing in at the Pasadena playhouse. By then, she had appeared in two more feature films; ''Huckleberry Finn'' in 1931 and ''Lena Rivers'' (pictured here) in 1932.

Charlotte Henry in Hollywood

aramount was looking for a young girl to play in their new movie version of ''Alice in Wonderland'', and over 6,800 were auditioned.
    A Paramount talent scout saw Charlotte in the play and arranged a screen test on a Monday morning. One-week-to-the-day later, Charlotte Henry began filming the high budget classic. The studio's press department made much of her uncanny resemblance to the character as it appeared in the original Tenniel drawings.
Charlotte Henry in 1930      An anxious movie-going public awaited the costly feature. A new young star was expected to emerge. The 1933 picture garnered unanimous praise for Charlotte. The huge cast was impressive, but their make-ups made it hard to tell who was who. It did poorly at the box office.
     The effect of ''Alice'' on Charlotte's life was more than the usual story of an actress ruined by a negative association. She was also typecast, but in a most peculiar way.
     In an interview, Charlotte disclosed that from the very first week of shooting, she became aware that others around her had simply lost sight of her as a person. ''I no longer existed as Charlotte Henry'', she said. With that costume, I was transformed in their minds to the creature they had read about as children. My identity was gone."
     Paramount loaned her to MGM for ''Babes in Toyland'' with Laurel and Hardy. Despite the success of that particular film and perhaps Charlotte's most remembered role, they released her. However, she continued to make movies, although the lower budgets of some of the productions sometimes let her down. In her own words: ''I simply lost interest'' and she made her last film in 1942.
harlotte retired from the movies and moved away from Hollywood to San Diego where she ran an employment agency with her mother, then became executive secretary for 15 years to the Roman Catholic Charlotte Henry aged 63, the same smileBishop of San Diego, Charles F. Buddy.
She was happily married to Dr. James J. Dempsey and continued with her acting, appearing in several stage productions at the San Diego Old Globe Theatre.
Although her film career was arguably affected by the box office failure of "Alice", she didn't hold a grudge and her car licence plate, in true looking-glass style, read "ECILA".

Charlotte Virginia Dempsey passed away in April 1980. The San Diego Union newspaper carried the obituary and noted that she was buried in the Holy Cross cemetary and was survived by her husband, Dr James J. Dempsey and her brother, the Reverend Robert E. Henry of St Pauls Episcopal Church in Ventura.


his biography was partly extracted from an article by Richard Lamparski written in 1976 as part of a 'Whatever became of ?'' series. It's been slightly re-written to correct some factual inaccuracies. The text of the biography was donated by Nick August with additional information by Thomas James, both of whom also supplied some of the photographs on this page.
BIOGRAPHY
  
FILM PAGE ONE
  
FILM PAGE TWO
  
FILM PAGE THREE
  
PUBLICITY PHOTOS