Friday, July 4, 2014

Stand In's In The News or Who Is This Alice MacKenzie Woman Anyway!

We all know the name Kathy Ellis.  We all know that Kathy worked as a stand in for Agnes and if we believe what the news media printed Kathy started as a stand in for Agnes in 1939 during the filming of "Citizen Kane." Unfortunately for the media, specifically the June 12, 1955 edition of "The Spokesman Review," It is a well documented fact that filming for "Citizen Kane" took place between June 29, 1940 and October 23 1940 in what is now Stage 19 on the Paramount lot.  There's a lovely piece about how Kathy met Agnes on the lot in 1939 and acted as her stand in because they had the same color hair and looked like twins.  "The glowing red hair is no creation of the chemical lab and both have the freckles to prove it.  It may have been a coincidence of coloration that brought them together in 1939 when Miss Ellis stood in for Miss Moorehead in the controversial film, "Citizen Kane," but a mutual loyalty has held them together since, and like Naomi and Ruth, whither Miss Moorehead goes, there goes Miss Ellis also."  Ummm, really?  Not so much, nope not so much at all.  I know that Kathy became an extremely close friend of Agnes' but she wasn't the only stand in that Agnes had.  Another little known actress has a much earlier record of a relationship with Agnes as her stand in and her name is Alice MacKenzie.  Kathy did travel with Agnes but so did Alice.  Most references I have seen place Kathy's travels with Agnes firmly in the 1950's and beyond.  But, Alice traveled with Agnes in the 1940's.  Alice Mackenzie is listed as Agnes' stand in in a June 8 1947 article in The Zanesville Signal.  She drove across country with Agnes and Jack so that Agnes could receive and honorary degree from her Alma Mater.

It made me wonder who Alice MacKenzie was.  I started my quest with IMDB.  Alice MacKenzie was in "Johnny Belinda" and "Summer Holiday."  She may have acted as a stand in for Agnes but she also had parts of her own.  She played an uncredited "farm woman" in "Johnny Belinda."  In "Summer Holiday" she played Mrs. McComber.  After these two films she promptly disappears from the annals of film.  Odd isn't it though.  I found it intriguing so I turned to genealogy to try and figure out who she was and whatever became of her.
What I discovered only serves to deepen the mystery.

Alice Cecelia MacKenzie was born July 16, 1917 in Minnesota.  Her life was unremarkable.  Her father died in 1929 and her mother was left to rear Alice and her three living siblings on her own.  She did a good job mainly working as an administrator in hospitals or as an accountant.  There were five children in total, three girls, one who passed in infancy, and two boys.  Alice may have gone to Stanford for at least one year.  I'm having trouble tracking her there.  Alice had a sister named Helen Elizabeth MacKenzie who was quite the woman.  Helen attended the University California at Berkeley.  Helen participated in theatre which leads me to believe her sister did as well.  The picture in the 1937 UC Berkeley yearbook bears a strong resemblance to a young Agnes, so I'm sure that Alice resembled her as well.  Helen joined the Women's Army Corp on January 6, 1944.  I can find no record of Alice having done so.  What I did find is that neither sister married and are mentioned in stories posted to their brother Robert's family tree.  Alice died in 1981 and Helen in 1986.

It seemed odd to me that Alice traveled with Agnes and Jack to across country to Ohio in 1947.  I can only assume that Agnes didn't want to be on her own with Jack and/or that she wanted to be on her own with Alice.  Whatever the case may be for those who are interested in Alice and what she looked like break out your copy of "Summer Holiday" and watch for Mrs. McComber.  She is Gloria De Haven's mom in the film.  One more piece of the gorgeous  puzzle that is Agnes Moorehead.

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