Alice Faye dies of stomach cancer in Rancho Mirage, California, 1998. Along with Greta Garbo and Deanna Durbin, the name of Alice Faye must be added to the very short list of movie stars who left the business at the peak of their careers. Faye, a singer with Rudy Vallee’s band in the early 1930s, followed the bandleader to Hollywood and made her motion picture debut when star Lilian Harvey left the cast of George White’s Scandals (1934). Fox head Darryl F. Zanuck took a liking to her, as did movie audiences of the 1930s and ‘40s, making her one of the era’s biggest stars. Hits included In Old Chicago (1937), Alexander’s Ragtime Band (1938) and Hello Frisco, Hello (1943), which featured Faye singing “You’ll Never Know,” a Harry Warren/Mack Gordon song that became a standard and scooped up the Oscar for Best Song.
In 1940, Faye was teamed with Betty Grable for the musical Tin Pan Alley, playing singing sisters who propel a songwriting team to fortune and fame. The two remained close friends until Grable’s death in 1973, in spite of the Fox publicity department playing up rumors of a rivalry between the two. That same year, Grable replaced Faye when an illness forced her to pull out of Down Argentine Way. Over the next several years, Faye’s popularity remained strong, though Grable rose to become Fox’s next big musical comedy star, often assuming roles that were tailored for Faye. Pleased with her performance in Fallen Angel (1945) yet dismayed at the ham-fisted edit job given the picture, Faye decided to leave the movie business, returning years later in State Fair (1962) and The Magic of Lassie (1978). "When I stopped making pictures, it didn't bother me because there were so many things I hadn't done,” Faye remarked. “I had never learned to run a house. I didn't know how to cook. I didn't know how to shop. So all these things filled all those gaps."