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Miles, Allie Lowe



Allie Pratt Lowe was born on October 22, 1894, in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Jesse Lowe, a civil engineer, and Allie Ruggles Pratt. She achieved fame in a variety of media, and was best known for her work as a radio interviewer and host.

Her family moved several times before settling in Beardstown, Illinois, in 1908, where Allie graduated high school in 1913. Allie provided artwork for her high school yearbook, The Tiger, and was noted for her favorite pastime, “composing odes to local celebrities.” She enrolled at Smith College in fall of 1915, leaving that school two years later.

In 1917, Lowe enrolled in the Northwestern University School of Oratory, receiving her Diploma in 1918 and returning for a year of post-graduate study. While at Northwestern, she acted in plays, performed in the Northwestern Circus, and was a member of Zeta Phi Eta, a professional communications fraternity.

After completing her studies at Northwestern, Lowe moved to the east coast in pursuit of an acting career. On October 30, 1919, she acted on stage in the premiere of Nunkie in Atlantic City, and the same year she appeared in an Alice Joyce film. In 1920, she joined the road company of the comedic farce Nighty Night, which traveled across the country. Lowe married William Aubrey Miles, an editor, in August, 1922.  The marriage produced one son, William Aubrey Miles, Jr., who himself took a Northwestern degree in 1950.

In the 1920s, Lowe, now having taken the surname Miles, initiated her writing career with novelizations of three films, Old San Francisco (Grosset & Dunlap, 1927), When a Man Loves: the Story of a Deathless Passion (Publisher, 1927), and The Crowd (Grosset & Dunlap, 1928). Miles also began publishing advice columns in magazines including Harper’s Bazaar, McCall’s, and Good Housekeeping, among others. Some of her writings for Woman’s Home Companion from this period were collected and published as pamphlets on topics such as parlor tricks, fortune telling, amateur theater, and personal finance. In her writing career, Miles occasionally used pseudonyms, including “Douga Lowe,” “Douga Pratt” (“Douga” being her childhood nickname), and the beauty expert “Ruth Jordan.”

In 1928, her article entitled “Cheese For Variety” in Pictorial Review, gained the attention of a radio producer who hired Miles to write radio scripts. It wasn’t long before Miles’ voice was heard over the airwaves, acting in comedy programs like Valspar Vaudeville and the Bon Ami Radio Matinees. In April, 1932, she took the job of celebrity interviewer on the Linit Bath Club Review

In 1935, New York City radio station WOR employed Miles to host two shows, The Allie Lowe Miles Club and Husbands and Wives. The Allie Lowe Miles Club was a forum for radio listeners who wrote to Miles for advice and then joined her in studio for broadcast discussions of romance, finances, cooking, and more. The program was a hit and Miles was swamped with requests for advice. A widely published photo showed Miles literally up to her waist in packages and letters from fans.

Miles co-hosted Husbands and Wives with fellow WOR employee Sedley Brown. The format of that program found several couples in the studio each week to air their marital grievances. Miles and Brown ostensibly served as impartial mediators but, when the show was chosen as a mid-summer replacement on NBC’s Blue Network, meaning a coast-to-coast audience, its tone changed considerably. Described in Radio Mirror as a “three-ring circus,” the national broadcast of Husbands and Wives was noted for its raucous nature, with husbands encouraged to applaud each other’s testimony, jeer that of the wives, and vice-versa. The thirty-minute program was moved after a few months to primetime, running on Tuesday nights through December, 1937. The show was recast after Brown’s death in 1938.

Following a role as the villainess Isabel Waite on the 1939 soap opera The Life and Love of Dr. Susan, Miles’ advice programs continued on radio through the 1940s under titles such as Falling in Love and Love Problems. During this time, she was also a contributor to pulp romance magazines and in 1940 was the guest editor for an issue of True Love Affairs (The Frank A. Munsey Company).

In 1945, Miles was a featured speaker at the Women’s International Exhibition, where she presented on “Teen Hand Arts.” Beginning in 1945, transcripts of her radio broadcast were collected and sold under license to publishers.

Allie Lowe Miles died on March 31, 1967.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Allie Lowe Miles (1894-1967) Papers

Identifier: 31/6/144

The Papers of Allie Lowe Miles (1894-1977)--a radio personality, advice columnist, writer, and actor--document Miles’ professional career and personal life, and include clippings, publications, correspondence, documents, radio ephemera and recordings, photographs, and artifacts.

Dates: 1894-1977