The Rev. Charles Dodgson’s devotion to Alice Liddell is well-known, but is his fictional Alice really that plum a role? After all, it’s Alice’s task to act as audience avatar, a perplexed witness to the nonsensical residents at the bottom of the rabbit hole. Regardless, starlet Mia Wasikowa is the latest to fluff the tresses of the Victorian era’s dizziest blonde. While audiences flock to the Burtonized Alice in Wonderland, we thought it would be beamish to survey who else once ran with White Rabbits.
May Clark in Alice in Wonderland (1903)
The first surviving film that drew on Lewis Carroll’s fantasia was filmed by Cecil Hepworth, partly on the estate belonging to travel agent Thomas Cook. For the heroine of what would be the longest film yet produced in Britain, the Brighton filmmaker cast May Clark, a 14-year-old who had been doing odd jobs at his studio. Both Clark and the Hepworths’ dog Blair would reappear in Rescued by Rover (1905). Download it at Archive.org
Gladys Hulette in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1910)
Seven years after The Great Train Robbery, Edwin S. Porter directed a version for Thomas Edison. He cast the 14-year-old Hulette, a stage actress who didn’t share her contemporaries shame over appearing in silent films. The one-reel adaptation was well-regarded, despite excising many of Carroll’s characters. As an adult, Hulette appeared in John Ford’s Western The Iron Horse (1926).