Alan Ladd's mother emigrated from England age 19. His accountant father died when he was four. At age five he burned his apartment playing with matches, and his mother moved them to Oklahoma City. He was malnourished, undersized and nicknamed Tiny. His mother married a house painter who moved them to California--a la "The Grapes of Wrath"--when he was eight. He picked fruit, delivered papers and swept stores. In high school he discovered track and swimming. By 1931 he was training for the 1932 Olympics, but an injury put an end to those plans. He opened a hamburger stand called Tiny's Patio, and later worked as a grip at Warner Brothers Pictures. He married his friend Midge in 1936 but couldn't afford her, so they lived apart. In 1937 they shared a friend's apartment. They had a son,Alan Ladd Jr., and his destitute alcoholic mother moved in with them, her agonizing suicide from ant poison witnessed a few months later by her son.
His size and coloring were regarded as not right for movies, so he worked hard at radio, where talent scout and former actress Sue Carol discovered him early in 1939. After a string of bit parts in "B" pictures--and an unbilled part in Orson Welles' classic Citizen Kane (1941)--he tested for This Gun for Hire (1942) late in 1941. His fourth-billed role as psychotic killer Raven made him a star. He was drafted in January 1943 and discharged in November with an ulcer and double hernia.
Throughout the 1940s his tough-guy roles packed audiences into theaters and he was one of the very few males whose cover photos sold movie magazines. In the 1950s he was performing in lucrative but unrewarding films (an exception being what many regard as his greatest role, Shane (1953)). By the end of the 1950s liquor and a string of so-so films had taken their toll. In November 1962 he was found unconscious lying in a pool of blood with a bullet wound near his heart. In January 1964 he was found dead, apparently due to an accidental combination of alcohol and sedatives.
|Sue Carol||(15 March 1942 - 29 January 1964) (his death) 2 children|
|Marjorie Jane Harrold||(October 1936 - 1941) (divorced) 1 child|
Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA, in the Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Heritage.
Owing to a clerical error, Ladd was inaccurately included in the cast credits for Born to the West (1937) in studio publicity material. In fact, he was never in the film, despite the fact that it often shows up in his credits and even on the video box!.
In his movies, suffers two cat-o-nine-tails floggings aboard sailing ships: (1) in Two Years Before the Mast (1946), he receives 10 lashes for striking an officer; (2) in Botany Bay (1953), he receives 50 lashes for attempting to escape from a prison transport ship.
The prisoner he plays in 1953's Botany Bay (1953) is keelhauled, marking what may be the only time a Hollywood leading man suffers this particular form of punishment.
In a 1961 interview Ladd was asked, "What would you change about yourself if you could?" He replied tersely: "Everything."
Ladd portrayed Dan Holiday on Mutual Radio's "Box 13" (1948-1949). This show was also syndicated.
A photograph of his flogging in Two Years Before the Mast (1946) appears on the cover of the 2004 book: "Lash! The Hundred Great Scenes of Men Being Whipped in the Movies".
Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 1601 Vine Street.
He and Veronica Lake made seven movies together: The Blue Dahlia (1946), Duffy's Tavern (1945), The Glass Key (1942), Saigon (1948), Star Spangled Rhythm (1942), This Gun for Hire (1942) and Variety Girl (1947). In Variety Girl (1947), Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) and Duffy's Tavern (1945), they appear as themselves.
In 1956, Ladd proposed a television series based on his radio series "Box 13". The idea didn't sell. Ladd himself had played his "Box 13" character Dan Holiday in the "Committed" episode of "G.E. True Theater" (1953) on television. In 1963, Ladd said he hoped to reunite several of his 1940s era co-stars, including William Bendix and Veronica Lake, for a big screen version of "Box 13".
His former home in Palm Springs, California, is still on the bus tour of movie stars' homes. An office building also bears his name.
Discovered Rory Calhoun while horseback riding in Griffith Park.
While he never enjoyed popularity among film critics, Ladd himself and his films were popular with the public. He was mobbed at guest appearances on network radio programs such as "The Lux Radio Theater" and in the 1940s his films grossed almost $55 million.
In 1954 he and Barbara Stanwyck won the top spots in "Modern Screen" magazine's Star of Stars Award competition as the most popular actors among fans in the previous ten years.
He ranked tenth in popularity in a poll of movie fans conducted by the "Motion Picture Herald" in 1947. From 1948-1950, he ranked number one in that poll.
In 1945, he ranked fourth in a "Modern Screen" magazine popularity poll among readers.
In 1943, "Modern Screen" magazine ran sixteen stories on him in its twelve issues that year.
I have the face of an aging choirboy and the build of an undernourished featherweight. If you can figure out my success on the screen you're a better man than I.
|Rulers of the Sea (1939)||$250|
|Boy on a Dolphin (1957)||$290,000|
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