Skip to main content

Alice Ghostley Papers

Identifier: MC 1846a

Content Description

Photographs, planners, newspaper clippings, playbills, correspondence, awards, and other materials documenting the career of actress Alice Ghostley.

Materials pertaining to Ghostley's theater and television performances are primarily from scrapbook binders; they include photographs, fan mail, playbills, newspaper clippings, and other materials. Photographs include both behind-the-scenes and stage photos as well as promotional photographs; many are copy prints rather than original prints. Ghostley's annual planners primarily document meetings and appointments. The bulk of the collection's correspondence is to Ghostley from her husband, Felice Orlandi, particularly when they were working in different locations, and topics include their professional projects and mutual friends. Also included is the dress Ghostley wore to an Emmy awards ceremony.


  • circa 1933-2009


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Access restrictions apply: One folder of materials containing Alice Ghostley's medical records is restricted until 50 years after Ghostley's death (2057).

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Conditions Governing Use

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical / Historical

Alice Margaret Ghostley was born August 14, 1923, to Harry and Edna Rooney Ghostley in Eve, Missouri. The Ghostleys moved to Siloam Springs, Benton County, Arkansas until the death of her father in 1933. The family then moved to Henryetta, Oklahoma where she finished high school. With the encouragement of a high school teacher, Ghostley became interested in acting. After graduating high school in 1941, she was accepted to the University of Oklahoma for drama. Ghostley eventually left college and moved to New York City in the mid-1940s with her sister Gladys to pursue a career in acting. After moving to New York City, Alice and Gladys started the act of The Ghostley Sisters. The act was short-lived, though, and Alice soon moved to Broadway. Ghostley met fellow actor Felice Orlandi at the beginning of her career, and the two were married in 1953 in Connecticut. Orlandi died from lung cancer May 21, 2003, in Burbank, California.

Ghostley received recognition for her debut on Broadway in New Faces in 1952. Ghostley performed in and was nominated for several awards, and received a Tony award for her role in The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window in 1965. Ghostley moved to television and had a recurring role as Esmeralda, a quirky witch who had constant trouble with spells and causing chaos on Bewitched, from 1966 to 1972. Ghostley was also known for her role on as Bernice on Designing Women from 1986 to 1993. Additionally, Ghostley appeared in films such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Graduate, and Grease. Ghostley passed away from colon cancer in Los Angeles, California on September 21, 2007. Ghostley's ashes are buried next to her sister Gladys, her husband, and her parents in Oak Hill Cemetery in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

(Biographical note copied from the finding aid for MC 1846, Alice Ghostley Materials)


9.54 Linear Feet (11 boxes)


Materials are arranged by format and by subject. When materials were removed from scrapbook binders and rehoused for preservation reasons, materials were left in their original order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Alice Ghostley Papers were donated to Special Collections by Alice Ghostley's cousin Catherine Ghostley of Minneapolis, Minnesota in October 2016.

Related Materials

See also the following related collections:

Alice Ghostley Materials MC 1846

Additional artifacts pertaining to Alice Ghostley are held by the Bushwhacker Museum in Nevada, Missouri.

Processing Information

Processed by Katrina Windon, with assistance from Elysa Barton; completed December 2020.



Alice Ghostley Papers
Katrina Windon
December 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States
(479) 575-8444