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Carole Landis Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (5) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (16) | Personal Quotes (6) | Salary (1)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 1 January 1919Fairchild, Wisconsin, USA
Date of Death 5 July 1948Pacific Palisades, California, USA  (suicide)
Birth NameFrances Lillian Mary Ridste
Nicknames The 'Ping' Girl
The Blonde Bomber
The Chest
Height 5' 5½" (1.66 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Carole Landis was born on New Year's Day in 1919 in Fairchild, Wisconsin, as Frances Lillian Mary Ridste. Her father, a railroad mechanic, was of Norwegian descent and her mother was Polish. Her father walked out, leaving Carole, her mother and an older brother and sister to fend for themselves.

After graduating from high school, she married Irving Wheeler, but the union lasted a month (the marriage was annulled because Carole was only 15 at the time). The couple remarried in August 1934, and the two headed to California to start a new life. For a while she worked as a dancer and singer, but before long the glitter of show business drew her to Los Angeles.

She won a studio contract with Warner Brothers but was a bit player for the most part in such films as A Star Is Born (1937), A Day at the Races (1937), and The Emperor's Candlesticks (1937). The following year started out much the same way, with more bit roles. By 1939, she was getting a few speaking roles, although mostly one-liners, and that year ended much as had the previous two years, with more bit roles; also, she and Wheeler were divorced.

In 1940 she was cast as Loana in the Hal Roach production of One Million B.C. (1940); she finally got noticed (the skimpy outfit helped), and her career began moving. She began getting parts in B pictures but didn't star in big productions -- although she had talent, the really good roles were given to the established stars of the day.

Her busiest year was 1942, with roles in Manila Calling (1942), The Powers Girl (1943), A Gentleman at Heart (1942), and three other movies. Unfortunately, critics took little notice of her films, and and when they did, reviewers tended to focus on her breathtaking beauty. By the middle 1940s, Carole's career was beginning to short-circuit. Her contract with 20th Century-Fox had been canceled, her marriages to Willis Hunt Jr. and Thomas Wallace had failed, and her current marriage to Horace Schmidlapp was on the skids; all of that plus health problems spelled disaster for her professionally and personally.

Her final two films, Brass Monkey (1948) and The Silk Noose (1948) were released in 1948. On July 5, 1948, Carole committed suicide by taking an overdose of Seconal in her Brentwood Heights, California, home. She was only 29 and had made 49 pictures, most of which were, unfortunately, forgettable. If Hollywood moguls had given Carole a chance, she could have been one of the brightest stars in its history.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

In 1935, after high school and a brief marriage in San Bernardino, California, Frances Ridste ran away to San Francisco to work as a nightclub dancer and band singer under the stage name Carole Landis. She got to Hollywood at age 17 in 1936 and got mostly extra work, but in 1937 she landed a contract with Warner Bros. However, Warners gave her mostly bit parts in B pictures and in the chorus of Busby Berkeley pictures for the 15 films she made for them. Her "break" came when Hal Roach cast her as the skin-clad lead in his hit One Million B.C. (1940) and in three fine comedies, then sold her contract to 20th Century-Fox. She played "B" leads and "A" supporting roles in her first 12 Fox films, with a notable dramatic performance in I Wake Up Screaming (1941). Critics dwelled on her fresh-faced beauty, seldom mentioning her acting and comedy potential. Carole wrote a book about her first wartime USO tour, entertaining troops in England and North Africa; in the film version, Four Jills in a Jeep (1944), you can get a glimpse of the kind of talent she really had, and which Fox was wasting. Absent from film work most of that year because of USO tours in the Pacific, Carol returned to Hollywood weakened by amoebic dysentery, malaria, and near-fatal pneumonia only to find the film dismissed as "self-praise". After Having Wonderful Crime (1945)--perhaps her best comedy--and two B pictures, her Fox contract was dropped. Ostracized in Hollywood due to her ardent feminism and rumors about sexual peccadillos, she made her last two films in England. With a stalled career, poor health, failed marriages, financial problems, and the ending of a torrid affair with married Rex Harrison, Carole Landis committed suicide with Seconal in 1948. Intelligent, generous, talented and gorgeous, she was only 29.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Spouse (5)

W. Horace Schmidlapp (8 December 1945 - 5 July 1948) (her death)
Capt. Thomas C. Wallace (5 January 1943 - 19 July 1945) (divorced)
Willis Hunt Jr. (4 July 1940 - 13 November 1940) (divorced)
Irving Wheeler (25 August 1934 - 9 May 1939) (divorced)
Irving Wheeler (14 January 1934 - 1934) (annulled)

Trade Mark (1)

Blonde hair

Trivia (16)

Parents: Alfred Ridste, Norwegian railroad mechanic; Clara Stentek Ridste (Polish). They separated when Carole was a baby.
Two older siblings: Dorothy Ridste Ross, born 1917, and Lawrence Ridste.
Carole protested strongly and publicly against the nonsensical nickname "Ping Girl" (apparently short for "purring") coined by Hal Roach publicist Frank N. Seltzer in April 1940.
In her musicals, Carole usually sang in her own voice.
A keen amateur photographer, she developed her own pictures.
She initiated divorce proceedings against her last husband in March 1948 but the divorce was not final when she died.
Rex Harrison, who had dined with her the previous night, discovered her body the day she committed suicide.
Interred at Forest Lawn (Glendale), Glendale, California, USA, in the Everlasting Love area, Lot #814, Section #8.
Became friendly with future author Jacqueline Susann in 1944 when they appeared together in the Broadway revue "The Lady Says Yes". The character of fragile, blonde Jennifer North in "Valley of the Dolls" is partially based on Landis.
A feminist at a young age, she once tried to start a girls football team at school but got into trouble because it was considered "un-lady like".
Actress Diana Lewis once gave Carole a gold cross as a gift. Carole wore the cross for the rest of her life and was even buried wearing it.
She was the youngest of five children. Two of her brothers died when they were toddlers. Jerome was burned by scalding water and Lewis was accidentally shot.
Spent more time visiting troops during World War II than any other Hollywood star. She nearly died from malaria she contracted while traveling overseas.
She chose the name Carole because she was a fan of Carole Lombard.
Carole desperately wanted to become a mother but she suffered from endometriosis and could not have children. She had numerous other health problems during her life including dysentery, malaria, pneumonia, and depression.
Her name was legally changed to Carole Landis on April 23, 1942.

Personal Quotes (6)

[on Lupe Velez's suicide, which occurred years before her own] I know how Lupe Velez felt. You fight just so long and then you begin to worry about being washed up. You fear there's one way to go and that's down.
I have no intention of ending my career in a rooming house, with full scrapbooks and an empty stomach.
Every girl in the world wants to find the right man, someone who is sympathetic and understanding and helpful and strong, someone she can love madly.
Although I avoided dramatics - and everything else - in school. I wanted to be a success on the stage, the screen, or the radio. So I saved my money and when I had bus fare and $16.82 over, I told my mother, Clara, I was going to leave home. She was heartbroken, but she believed in me.
We had a wonderful time everywhere overseas. But it was hard. For five months we never gave less than five shows a day. It was too cold to sleep nights and there wasn't water enough to take a bath. I had to do my own washing. And I ate more sand and fog, than food.
I want to be as good an actress as Bette Davis, and I'd like to be a great singer. But more than that I'd like to be happily married and have some children.

Salary (1)

One Million B.C. (1940) $75/week

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