Florence Rice

She was everything you could want in a love interest — pretty, wholesome, reliable, true-blue. Porcelain blonde Florence Rice would come to films in the mid-’30s but disappear within a decade, having made little of the impression she might have made. She was introduced to the limelight practically from the beginning as the daughter of famous sportswriter, documentary producer and radio commentator Grantland Rice (1880-1954). Rice was known for his many “Grantland Rice Sportslights” shorts in the 1920s and 1930s and would win an Oscar for Best Short Subject for Amphibious Fighters (1943).

Florence, who was born in Cleveland, OH, in 1907, attended grammar and boarding schools in Englewood, NJ, and developed an early interest in acting. Gracing such Broadway stage productions as “June Moon” and “She Loves Me Not,” she began appearing regularly on the big screen in the mid-’30s and would work primarily for MGM in the light, sparkling comedy department over the years. Equally agreeable Robert Young would be a frequent co-star, appearing with her in such films as The Longest Night (1936), Sworn Enemy (1936), Married Before Breakfast (1937), Navy Blue and Gold (1937) and Paradise for Three (1938). Florence’s best known role would come as the somewhat vapid singing ingénue (Kenny Baker was her bland male counterpart) in one of The Marx Brothers’ lesser vehicles At the Circus (1939) (unlike Baker, her vocals were dubbed).

As was usually the case, Florence was overshadowed in most of her pictures by flashier dames or zany comedians. Following her role as the bride in the spooky “B” comedy The Ghost and the Guest (1943), she left films altogether and found some work waiting for her on radio and TV. Two prior marriages, including one to actor Robert Wilcox, failed, but in the postwar years she happily met and married Fred Butler and retired to Hawaii. She died of lung cancer in 1974.

Related Posts