Who Was Alice B. Toklas And Why Did Peter Sellers Love Her?

By | November 15, 2017

test article image
Left: Peter Sellers comes face-to-tattooed thigh with the young hip generation in the film's poster art. Right: Alice B. Toklas photographed by Man Ray. Sources: Amazon.com, Detroit Institute Of Arts Museum

In 1968, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, a Peter Sellers comedy, captured some countercultural credibility with its title -- while also confessing its own squareness. Loving Alice B. Toklas is a fine idea, providing you know Alice B. Toklas and have some good feelings toward her. It's a nod to hippie and stoner culture, of course, not a character in the film. Toklas was part of the American expatriate literature scene in the early 20th century and is credited, somewhat jokingly, as the inventor of what's more commonly known as the pot brownie.

Who Alice B. Toklas Was, Really

test article image
Leigh Taylor-Young flashing finger signs as Peter Sellers smiles in a scene from the film 'I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!', 1968. (Photo by Warner Brothers-Seven Arts/Getty)

Alice B. Toklas was a forward-thinking woman, years ahead of her time. She was born in 1877 and died in 1967, at the age of 90 years old. Toklas' life-partner, with whom she lived in Paris for nearly 40 years, was the American writer Gertrude Stein. While Stein was a noted writer, whose most famous work was the pseudo-memoir The Autobiography Of Alice B. Toklas, she is perhaps best remembered as a mentor to Ernest Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and other expatriate writers, whom she dubbed the "Lost Generation."

Homosexuality has come to be widely accepted in many cultures today, but in Toklas’ day, it was not. She would be pleased to know that an organization founded in 1971 in San Francisco, CA was named after her; Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.