Sweet Oddball – The Story of Alice Pearce (hardback)
Alice Pearce, once called “the adenoidal lass with the most beautiful, homely face on Broadway,” carved a unique career playing wallflowers, nitwits, nags, and other oddball characters, all of whom contrasted sharply with their portrayer. As the shy daughter of an international banker, she experienced a privileged upbringing, attending exclusive schools in both Europe and the United States. Against her parents’ wishes, she pursued acting, eventually enlivening thirteen Broadway productions and winning acclaim for her smash act at New York’s chicest nightclub, the Blue Angel. Although Alice’s Hollywood career was comparatively fleeting, the Emmy-winning actress was featured in fourteen films and in dozens of top television series. She achieved her greatest fame—ironically, at the very end of her brief life—for playing Gladys Kravitz, the snoopy neighbor on the TV sitcom Bewitched. Sweet Oddball, exhaustively researched and illustrated with 225 rare photos, chronicles the public and private lives of a lady much beloved by her fellow actors and fans.
Fredrick Tucker is a retired educator who enjoys studying character actors of stage and screen. Sweet Oddball, the culmination of research begun in 1975, is his second book for BearManor Media. His biography Verna Felton was published in 2010.
"Many of us fondly recall actress Alice Pearce (1917-1966) as the nasal oddball Lucy Shmeeler in the MGM musical ON THE TOWN (1949) and as the often hysterical nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz on TV’s BEWITCHED during its first two seasons (1964-1966). But there was far more to character star Pearce who came from a privileged background including a fine college education. During her impressive career Alice—who was not conventionally pretty—performed in NYC clubs, on Broadway, on road tours, in summer stock, and on radio, TV, and the movies.
"In a true labor of love accomplished over several decades, author Fredrick Tucker has done a remarkable job of researching his subject to the nth degree. During this lengthy period of digging into the world of Alice Pearce he gained the assistance of several of her show business coworkers, perceptions from many of her friends, and personal recollections from her extended family that encompassed two marriages. And seemingly Tucker has documented most every media mention of this offbeat talent who typically played wallflowers, spinsters, and eccentric individuals in a long list of memorable performances. As a result he has produced a marvelous, dimensional, well-written biography of Pearce. Equally of interest Tucker has provided in his book an informative background of the times in which Alice worked in various media. Thus SWEET ODDBALL: THE STORY OF ALICE PEARCE is not only a richly textured narrative but it provides a cultural history of bygone decades of various arenas of American show business. Completing this outstanding chronicle are over 200 photos documenting the professional and private lives of gifted Alice Pearce whose time with us was sadly cut short by cancer. This book is a highly recommended read!"
- James Robert Parish