- NAME: Alice Guy-Blaché
- OCCUPATION: Entrepreneur, Director, Producer, Screenwriter
- BIRTH DATE: July 01, 1873
- DEATH DATE: March 24, 1968
- EDUCATION: Sacred Heart Convent
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Paris, France
- PLACE OF DEATH: Mahwah, New Jersey
- AKA: Alice Guy
- AKA: Alice Guy-Blaché
- Maiden Name: Alice Ida Antoinette Guy
Best Known For
An early 20th century filmmaking pioneer and one of the first to make a narrative fiction film, Alice Guy-Blaché made more than 1,000 films and ran her own film studio in New Jersey, experimenting with sound syncing, color tinting, interracial casting and special effects.
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They eventually fell in love, married in 1906, and a year later relocated to the United States, where her husband headed up Gaumont's New York office while Guy-Blaché was pregnant with daughter Simone.
But with more than 1,000 films already under her bustle (while early filmmakers such as D.W. Griffith were just getting their feet wet), Guy-Blaché opened her own film studio, Solax, producing a film a week. The studio was located first in Flushing,
Queens, and then moved to Fort Lee, New Jersey, while the filmmaker was pregnant with son Reginald.
At Solax, Guy-Blaché continued her innovative filmmaking with technical experimentation, interracial casting and clever scripts. She made her husband president of Solax so she could concentrate on her strengths, but he resigned in a year and began a rival company, although they continued to work together until World War I slowed production.
Herbert Blaché eventually followed the film industry, and a young actress, to California. Guy-Blaché got intermittent work but directed her last film—Tarnished Reputations—in 1920. After she and Herbert divorced, she moved back to France with her children, relying heavily on her daughter for financial support.
Barbra Streisand is credited with calling Alice Guy-Blaché "a French film pioneer who invented the director's job." And indeed that is true, because in the early days of moviemaking, long before there was a film industry, everyone was just making it up as they went along, experimenting with the new technology. Because Guy-Blaché crafted stories, she shaped what it meant to be a director as the role is defined today.
In the late 1940s, when she noticed that the historical record of the film industry didn't include her, she began speaking engagements—with Gaumont's son Louis as her champion—and embarked on her memoirs. The unpublished manuscript was found by her daughter after her death, and Simone and Anthony Slide translated and published it.
Alice Guy-Blaché returned with her daughter Simone to Mahwah, New Jersey, in 1965 and died there in a nursing home on March 24, 1968.
The French government presented her with the Legion of Honor, its highest civilian honor, in 1953. The Fort Lee Film Commission has been working hard to have Alice Guy-Blaché instated in the New Jersey Hall of Fame as well as have a star for her on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. In 2012, Martin Scorsese accorded her the Director's Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award, saying: "It is the hope and intention of the DGA that by presenting this posthumous special directorial award for lifetime achievement, the Guild can both raise awareness of an exceptional director and bring greater recognition to the role of women in film history."
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