Silent film star appeared in 13 'Alice' films

Virginia Davis, star of Walt Disney’s silent “Alice Comedies,” died Saturday in Corona, Calif, of natural causes. She was 90.

Known as Disney’s first star, Davis appeared in 13 “Alice” films, including “Alice Hunting in Africa,” “Alice Gets Stung” and “Alice’s Wild West Show,” describing the latter as “one of my favorite pictures.”

“I was always the kid with the curls,” Davis said. “But I was really a Tom boy, and that picture allowed me to act tough.”

Born in Kansas City, Mo., Davis first came to the attention of Disney when she was 4 years old; and in 1923, Davis starred in her first short, “Alice’s Wonderland,” under Disney’s first banner, Laugh-O-gram Films.

Davis went on to work in Hollywood as a child star and in supporting roles. She appeared in such films as “Young and Beautiful,” “Song of the Islands,” “Three on a Match” and “The Harvey Girls.” She also did voice work on “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “Pinocchio.”

“Gini was a very special lady who always took great pride in the historic role she played in our studio’s history,” said Roy E. Disney, director emeritus and consultant for the Walt Disney Co. “She liked to remind everyone that it all started with Alice, not Mickey Mouse.”

In 1943, she married Navy aviator Robert McGhee, and for 25 years, worked as a real estate agent.

Davis was honored in 1998 by the Mouse House, naming her a “Disney Legend” for her contributions to the studio.

She is survived by two daughters and three granddaughters.

Donations may be made in Davis’ name to the Autism Society of America-Inland Empire Chapter, 2276 Griffin Way, Suite 105-194, Corona, CA 92879.

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