Laura La Plante

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Laura La Plante
Laura La Plante Stars of the Photoplay.jpg
Born Laura LaPlant
(1904-11-01)November 1, 1904
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died October 14, 1996(1996-10-14) (aged 91)
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1921–1934
Spouse(s) William A. Seiter
(m.1926-1934; divorced)
Irving Asher
(m.1934-1985; his death); 2 children

Laura La Plante (November 1, 1904 – October 14, 1996) was an American actress, best known for her silent film roles.

Early acting career[edit]

Born as Laura LaPlant, La Plante made her acting debut at the age of 15, and in 1923 was named as one of the year's WAMPAS Baby Stars. During the 1920s she appeared in more than sixty films. Among her early film appearances were Big Town Round-Up (1921), with cowboy star Tom Mix, the serials Perils of the Yukon (1922) and Around the World in Eighteen Days (1923), and several Western movies with Hoot Gibson.

The majority of her films (i.e. from 1921 to 1930) were made for Universal Pictures. During this period she was the studio's most popular star, "an accomplishment duplicated only by Deanna Durbin years later", [1] and almost always enjoyed top billing. One of her earliest surviving films is Smouldering Fires (1925), directed by Clarence Brown and costarring Pauline Frederick. Her best remembered film is arguably the silent classic The Cat and the Canary (1927), although she also achieved acclaim for Skinner's Dress Suit (1926), with Reginald Denny, the part-talkie The Love Trap (1929), directed by William Wyler, and the 1929 part-talkie film version of Show Boat (1929), adapted from the novel of the same name by Edna Ferber.

Although this last film was an adaptation of the novel, and not of the famous musical play that the novel was based on, some songs from the play were tossed into the film as box-office insurance. She did not actually sing in the movie; her singing was dubbed by Eva Olivetti, one of the first instances in which this was done in a motion picture. A scene of La Plante in Show Boat was broadcast on early British television.[2]

Transition to "talking films"[edit]

The advent of 'talkies' effectively shortened her career. In her mid-twenties she was a natural and appealing presence in early talkies but the huge wave of new stars in those years overshadowed her. She made her last appearances for Universal in the Technicolor musical extravaganza King of Jazz (1930). For a while she free-lanced, appearing in God's Gift to Women (Warner Bros., 1931), directed by Michael Curtiz and co-starring Frank Fay and Joan Blondell, and Arizona (Columbia, 1931), co-starring a young John Wayne.[citation needed]

Later career[edit]

La Plante subsequently went to England where she appeared in several "quota quickies", including Man of the Moment (1935), with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. La Plante was briefly considered to replace Myrna Loy in the Thin Man series when Loy thought about leaving, but Loy stayed as "Nora Charles" and La Plante's career never rebounded. She retired from the screen in 1935, making only two later films, 1957's Spring Reunion being her last. Her younger sister, actress Violet, never achieved Laura's level of fame; both sisters were "WAMPAS Baby Stars".

On June 3, 1954 (Season 4 Episode 38), La Plante made a guest appearance (as herself, Mrs. Laura Asher) on Groucho Marx's quiz show, You Bet Your Life. She talked about her husband, Irving Asher, who had just lost 25 lbs. and completed the film Elephant Walk with Elizabeth Taylor. Mrs. Asher asked that her winnings, if any, go to the Motion Picture Relief Fund. They got three out of four questions correct to win $215.[3] In the mid-1980s, a wheelchair-bound La Plante was brought on stage to wave to the crowd at the "Night of a Hundred Stars" event.

Death[edit]

Laura La Plante died in Woodland Hills, California from Alzheimer's disease, at the age of 91.

Legacy[edit]

Partial filmography[edit]

Lonely Wives (1931) with Edward Everett Horton

References[edit]

  1. ^ Drew, William. Speaking of Silents. Vestal, NJ. Vestal Press, 1989, p. 89. ISBN 0-911572-81-3
  2. ^ Kreuger, Miles. Show Boat — The Story of a Classic American Musical. New York, NY. Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 97.
  3. ^ from the DVD Groucho Marx --You Bet Your Life put out by "TV Classics"
  4. ^ Google Maps (in {$lang}</!lang>). Laura La Plante Dr - Google Maps<!lang> (Map) (2014 ed.). https://www.google.com/maps/place/Laura+La+Plante+Dr,+Agoura+Hills,+CA+91301/@34.139541,-118.742362,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x80e8213624df37c5:0xb487f097842b6096. Retrieved 2014-08-05.

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