Laura La Plante
|Laura La Plante|
November 1, 1904
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||October 14, 1996
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||William A. Seiter
(m.1934-1985; his death); 2 children
Early acting career
Born as Laura LaPlant, La Plante made her acting debut at the age of 15, and in 1923 was named as one of the years 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",  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.
Transition to "talking films"
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.
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".
In 1954, 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. In the mid-1980s, a wheelchair bound La Plante was brought on stage to wave to the crowd at the "Night of a 100 Stars" event.
- Laura La Plante Road in Agoura Hills, California
- 813 (1920) with Wallace Beery
- Perils of the Yukon (1922) (15 episode serial)
- Around the World in Eighteen Days (1923) (12 episode serial)
- Dead Game (1923) with Hoot Gibson
- Shootin' for Love (1923) with Hoot Gibson
- Out of Luck (1923) with Hoot Gibson
- The Ramblin' Kid (1923) with Hoot Gibson
- The Thrill Chaser (1923) with Hoot Gibson
- Ride for Your Life (1924) with Hoot Gibson
- Smouldering Fires (1925)
- The Teaser (1925) with Hedda Hopper
- Dangerous Innocence (1925) with Jean Hersholt
- The Cat and the Canary (1927)
- Home, James (1928)
- The Last Warning (1929)
- Show Boat (1929) with Joseph Schildkraut
- King of Jazz (1930) with Bing Crosby
- Stout Hearts and Willing Hands (1931) (comedy short)
- Arizona (1931), with John Wayne
- God's Gift to Women (1931) with Joan Blondell
Lonely Wives (1931) with Edward Everett Horton
- Drew, William. Speaking of Silents. Vestal, NJ. Vestal Press, 1989, p. 89. ISBN 0-911572-81-3
- Kreuger, Miles. Show Boat — The Story of a Classic American Musical. New York, NY. Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 97.
- from the DVD Groucho Marx --You Bet Your Life put out by "TV Classics"
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Laura La Plante.|
- Laura La Plante photo gallery
- Laura La Plante at the Internet Movie Database
- Laura La Plante at Find a Grave
- Laura La Plante(NY Public Library, Billy Rose collection)
- Laura La Plante at Virtual History