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Ladd in 1953
|Born||Alan Walbridge Ladd
September 3, 1913
Hot Springs, Arkansas, U.S.
|Died||January 29, 1964
Palm Springs, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Cerebral edema caused by accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol|
|Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale|
|Education||North Hollywood High School|
|Occupation||Actor, film and television producer|
|Spouse(s)||Marjorie Jane Harrold (m. 1936; div. 1941)
Sue Carol (m. 1942–64)
|Children||Alan Ladd, Jr. (b. 1937)
Alana Ladd (b. 1943)
David Ladd (b. 1947)
|Relatives||Jordan Ladd (granddaughter)
Shane Ladd (granddaughter)
Alan Walbridge Ladd (September 3, 1913 – January 29, 1964) was an American actor and film and television producer. Ladd found success in film the 1940s and early 1950s, particularly in Westerns and film noirs where he was often paired with Veronica Lake. His popularity diminished in the late 1950s, though he continued to appear in popular films until his accidental death due to a lethal combination of alcohol, a barbiturate, and two tranquilizers.
Ladd was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was the only child of Ina Raleigh (also known as Selina Rowley) and Alan Ladd, a freelance accountant. His mother was English, from County Durham. His father died when he was four, and his mother relocated to Oklahoma City, where she married Jim Beavers, a housepainter. The family then moved again to the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles where Ladd became a high school swimming and diving champion and participated in high school dramatics at North Hollywood High School, including the role of "Koko" in The Mikado. He graduated on February 1, 1934. He opened his own hamburger and malt shop, which he called Tiny's Patio. He worked briefly as a studio carpenter (as did his stepfather) and for a short time was part of the Universal Pictures studio school for actors. But Universal decided he was too blond and too short and dropped him.
Ladd was heard on radio by the agent Sue Carol who signed him to her books and enthusiastically promoted her new client, starting with the 1939 film Rulers of the Sea, in which he played a character named "Colin Farrell." Ladd began by appearing in dozens of films in small roles, including Citizen Kane, in which he played a newspaper reporter towards the end of the film. He first gained some wide recognition with a featured role in the wartime thriller Joan of Paris, 1942.
For his next role, Sue Carol found a vehicle which made Ladd's career: the 1942 adaptation of Graham Greene's novel This Gun for Hire in which he played "Raven", a hitman with a conscience. "Once Ladd had acquired an unsmiling hardness, he was transformed from an extra to a phenomenon. Ladd's calm slender ferocity make it clear that he was the first American actor to show the killer as a cold angel." – David Thomson (A Biographical Dictionary of Film, 1975) 
Both the film and Ladd's performance played an important role in the development of the "gangster" genre: "That the old fashioned motion picture gangster with his ugly face, gaudy cars, and flashy clothes was replaced by a smoother, better looking, and better dressed bad man was largely the work of Mr. Ladd." – New York Times obituary (January 30, 1964). Ladd was teamed with actress Veronica Lake in this film, and despite the fact that it was Robert Preston who played the romantic lead, the Ladd-Lake pairing captured the public's imagination, and would continue in another three films. (They appeared in a total of seven films together, but three were only guest shots in all-star musical revues.)
Ladd and Lake became a particularly popular pairing because, at 5'1", she was one of the few Hollywood actresses shorter than him. In his memoirs, actor/producer John Houseman wrote of Ladd: "Since he himself was extremely short, he had only one standard by which he judged his fellow players: their height". To compensate for Ladd's height, during the filming of Boy on a Dolphin, co-starring the much taller Sophia Loren, the cinematographer used special low stands to light Ladd and the crew built a ramp system of heavy planks to enable the two actors to stand at equal eye level. In outdoor scenes, trenches were dug for Loren to stand in. For the film Saskatchewan, director Raoul Walsh had a six-inch hole dug for co-star Hugh O'Brian to stand in, while using the excavated dirt to build a mound for Ladd to stand on, thereby overcoming the one-foot disparity in height.
He appeared in Dashiell Hammett's story The Glass Key, his second pairing with Lake, and Lucky Jordan with Helen Walker. His cool, unsmiling persona proved popular with wartime audiences, and he was quickly established as one of the top box office stars of the decade.
In 1946, he starred in a trio of silver screen classics: the big screen adaptation of Richard Henry Dana's maritime classic, Two Years Before the Mast (for which he also received critical acclaim), the Raymond Chandler original mystery The Blue Dahlia (his third pairing with Lake), and the World War II espionage thriller O.S.S..
He formed his own production companies for film and radio and then starred in his own syndicated series Box 13, which ran from 1948–49. Ladd and Robert Preston starred in the 1948 western film, Whispering Smith, which in 1961 would become a short-lived NBC television series, starring Audie Murphy. In the 1949 version of The Great Gatsby, Ladd had the featured role of Jay Gatsby.
In 1950 the Hollywood Women's Press Club voted him the easiest male star to deal with in Hollywood.
In 1951, Ladd announced that he would leave Paramount and make five films for Warner Bros. His contract with Paramount was amended so he could only make two more films for that studio but this did not happen. His final movies for Paramount were Red Mountain, Thunder in the East, Shane and Botany Bay. Ladd later announced that leaving Paramount was "a big upset" for him and he only left for "business reasons... future security for the children and ourselves".
Although Ladd left Paramount in 1952, the release of his final films was staggered: Shane and Botany Bay did not come out until 1953. Shane was particularly popular and saw Ladd voted as one of the ten most popular stars in the country in 1953.
Ladd's films at Warner were made by his own production unit, Jaguar. The first of these was The Iron Mistress (1952).
He then made a movie at Universal Studios, Desert Legion (1953).
When former agent Albert R. Broccoli formed Warwick Films with his partner Irving Allen, they heard Ladd was unhappy with Paramount and was leaving the studio. With his wife and agent Sue Carol, they negotiated for Ladd to appear in the first three of their films made in England and released through Columbia Pictures: The Red Beret (1953); Hell Below Zero (1954), based on the Hammond Innes book The White South; and The Black Knight (1954). All three were co-written by Ladd's regular screenwriter Richard Maibaum, the last with additional dialogue by Bryan Forbes. In 1954, Ladd formed a new production company, Jaguar Productions, originally releasing his films through Warner Bros. and then with All the Young Men through Columbia.
Ladd's pictures became less distinguished as the decade went on. He turned down the chance to play the role of Jett Rink in Giant (1956), which was subsequently played by James Dean, and became one of the biggest hits of the decade.
In November 1962, he was found lying unconscious in a pool of blood with a bullet wound near his heart, in what might have been an unsuccessful suicide attempt. In 1963, Ladd's career looked set to make a comeback when he filmed a supporting role in The Carpetbaggers, which became one of the most popular films of 1964. He would not live to see its release.
Few biographical sources refrain from speculation on Ladd's height, which legend contends was slight. Reports of his height vary from 5 ft 5 in to 5 ft 9 in (1.65 m – 1.75 m), with 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m) being the most generally accepted today. His U.S. Army enlistment record, however, indicates a height of 5 ft 7 in.
Ladd married a high school sweetheart, Marjorie Jane "Midge" Harrold, in October 1936. Their only child, a son named Alan Ladd, Jr., was born on October 22, 1937. They divorced in July 1941.
Alan Ladd, Jr., is a film executive and producer and founder of The Ladd Company. Actress Alana Ladd, who co-starred with her father in Guns of the Timberland and Duel of Champions, is married to the veteran talk radio broadcaster Michael Jackson. Actor David Ladd, who co-starred with his father as a child in The Proud Rebel, was married to Charlie's Angels star Cheryl Ladd (née Stoppelmoor), 1973–80. Their daughter is actress Jordan Ladd.
On January 29, 1964, Ladd was found dead in his Palm Springs home. His death, due to cerebral edema caused by an acute overdose of "alcohol and three other drugs", was ruled accidental. Ladd suffered from chronic insomnia and regularly used sleeping pills and alcohol to induce sleep. While he had not taken a lethal amount of any one drug, the combination apparently caused a synergistic reaction that proved fatal. He was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. Not until June 28, 1964 did Carpetbaggers producer Joseph E. Levine hold an elaborate premiere screening in New York City with an afterparty staged by his wife at The Four Seasons Restaurant.
Ladd has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1601 Vine Street. His handprint appears in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater, in Hollywood. In 1995, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.
Select radio credits
- Box 13: 52 episodes (22 August 1948 – 14 August 1949)
|1932||Tom Brown of Culver||Cadet|
|1932||Once in a Lifetime||Projectionist|
|1937||The Last Train from Madrid||Soldier|
|1937||Souls at Sea||Sailor|
|1937||All Over Town||Young Man|
|1937||Hold 'Em Navy||Chief Quartermaster|
|1938||The Goldwyn Follies||First Auditioning Singer|
|1938||Come On, Leathernecks!||Club Waiter|
|1939||The Mysterious Miss X||Henchman|
|1939||Hitler, Beast of Berlin||Karl Bach|
|1939||Rulers of the Sea||Colin Farrell|
|1940||American Portrait||Young man/Old man||Short subject|
|1940||Blame It on Love||Short subject
|1940||Meat and Romance||Bill Allen||Short subject|
|1940||Unfinished Rainbows||Charles Martin Hall||Short subject|
|1940||The Green Hornet||Gilpin, Student Pilot||Chapter 3|
|1940||Brother Rat and a Baby||Cadet in trouble|
|1940||In Old Missouri||John Pittman, Jr.|
|1940||The Light of Western Stars||Danny, Stillwell Ranch Hand|
|1940||Gangs of Chicago|
|1940||Cross-Country Romance||Mr. Williams, First Mate|
|1940||Those Were the Days!||Keg Rearick|
|1940||Captain Caution||Newton, Mutinous Sailor|
|1940||The Howards of Virginia||Backwoodsman|
|1940||Meet the Missus||John Williams|
|1940||Victory||Heyst as an 18-year-old|
|1940||Her First Romance||John Gilman|
|1941||I Look To You||Short subject|
|1941||Petticoat Politics||Higgins Daughter's Boyfriend|
|1941||Citizen Kane||Reporter smoking pipe at end||Uncredited|
|1941||The Black Cat||Richard Hartley|
|1941||Paper Bullets||Jimmy Kelly aka Bill Dugan|
|1941||The Reluctant Dragon||Al, Baby Weems storyboard artist|
|1941||They Met in Bombay||British Soldier|
|1941||Great Guns||Soldier in Photo Shop|
|1941||Cadet Girl||Harry, Musician|
|1941||Military Training||Lieutenant, Platoon Leader, County Fair||Short subject
|1942||Joan of Paris||"Baby"|
|1942||This Gun for Hire||Philip Raven|
|1942||The Glass Key||Ed Beaumont|
|1942||Lucky Jordan||Lucky Jordan|
|1942||Star Spangled Rhythm||Alan Ladd, Scarface Skit|
|1942||Letter from a Friend||Short subject|
|1943||Screen Snapshots: Hollywood in Uniform||Himself||Short subject|
|1944||Skirmish on the Home Front||Harry W. Average||Short subject|
|1944||And Now Tomorrow||Doctor Merek Vance|
|1945||Salty O'Rourke||Salty O'Rourke|
|1945||Hollywood Victory Caravan||Alan Ladd||Short subject|
|1946||Two Years Before the Mast||Charles Stewart|
|1946||The Blue Dahlia||Johnny Morrison, Lt.Cmdr., ret.|
|1946||O.S.S.||Philip Masson/John Martin|
|1946||Screen Snapshots: The Skolsky Party||Himself||Short subject|
|1947||My Favorite Brunette||Sam McCloud|
|1947||Wild Harvest||Joe Madigan|
|1948||Saigon||Maj. Larry Briggs|
|1948||Beyond Glory||Capt. Rockwell "Rocky" Gilman|
|1948||Whispering Smith||Whispering Smith|
|1949||Eyes of Hollywood||Short subject|
|1949||The Great Gatsby||Jay Gatsby|
|1949||Chicago Deadline||Ed Adams|
|1950||Captain Carey, U.S.A.||Captain Webster Carey|
|1951||Appointment with Danger||Al Goddard|
|1951||Red Mountain||Capt. Brett Sherwood|
|1952||The Iron Mistress||Jim Bowie|
|1952||Thunder in the East||Steve Gibbs|
|1952||A Sporting Oasis||Himself||Short subject|
|1953||Botany Bay||Hugh Tallant|
|1953||Desert Legion||Paul Lartal|
|1953||The Red Beret||Steve "Canada" McKendrick|
|1954||Hell Below Zero||Duncan Craig|
|1954||The Black Knight||John|
|1954||Drum Beat||Johnny MacKay||Producer|
|1955||The McConnell Story||Capt. Joseph C. "Mac" McConnell, Jr.|
|1955||Hell on Frisco Bay||Steve Rollins||Producer|
|1956||Santiago||Caleb "Cash" Adams||Producer|
|1956||A Cry in the Night||Opening narrator||Producer|
|1957||The Big Land||Chad Morgan||Producer|
|1957||Boy on a Dolphin||Dr. James Calder|
|1958||The Deep Six||Alexander "Alec" Austen||Producer|
|1958||The Proud Rebel||John Chandler|
|1958||The Badlanders||Peter Van Hoek ("The Dutchman")|
|1959||The Man in the Net||John Hamilton||Producer|
|1959||Island of Lost Women||
|1960||Guns of the Timberland||Jim Hadley||Executive producer|
|1960||All the Young Men||Sgt. Kincaid||Executive producer|
|1960||One Foot in Hell||Mitch Garrett|
|1961||Duel of Champions||Horatio|
|1962||13 West Street||Walt Sherill||Producer|
|1964||The Carpetbaggers||Nevada Smith||Released posthumously|
|1953||Better Living TV Theatre||Himself||September 6, 1953 episode|
|1954||Red Skelton Revue||Guest (Old West Sketch)||Episode 1.1|
|1954-1958||General Electric Theater||Various roles||3 episodes
Executive producer (2 episodes)
|1955||Kings Row||Himself||Episode: "Lady In Fear"|
|1957–1958||The Bob Cummings Show||Himself||2 episodes|
|1959||Schlitz Playhouse of Stars||
||Episode: "Ivy League"|
- Persian Gulf (1952)
- The Pastor of Panmint (1952)
- Buffalo Grass from novel by Frank Gruber (circa 1956)
Box office ranking
For a number of years, film exhibitors voted him amongst the top stars at the box office.
|1950||(did not make top 25)||8th|
- Alan Ladd Death Ruled Accidental UPI. The Bulletin of Bend and Central Oregon Feb 5, 1964.
- Obituary Variety, February 5, 1964, page 63.
- Linet, Beverly. Ladd: The Life, the Legend, the Legacy of Alan Ladd. New York: Arbor House, 1979. ISBN 0-87795-203-5
- "Alan Ladd Urges Training for Films", Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 28 May 1950: D1.
- "The Gent Is Alan Ladd, the Calculating Trigger-Man in 'This Gun for Hire'" by John R. Franchey. New York Times 7 June 1942: X4.
- "Biography of Alan Ladd.". The Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA: National Library of Australia). 28 November 1942. p. 3. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- Alan Ladd 8/12
- Alan Ladd
- Lenburg, Jeff (2001). Peekaboo: The Story of Veronica Lake. Lincoln NE: iUniverse. pp. 95–96. ISBN 978-0595192397.
- Houseman, John (1989). Unfinished business: memoirs, 1902–1988. New York: Applause Theatre Books. p. 260. ISBN 978-1557830241.
- Udel, James C. (2013). The Film Crew of Hollywood: Profiles of Grips, Cinematographers, Designers, a Gaffer, a Stuntman and a Makeup Artist. Jefferson NC: McFarland. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-7864-6484-5.
- Baldwin, Paul and John Williams Malone (2001). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Acting. Indianapolis: Alpha. p. 122. ISBN 978-0028641539.
- Moss, Marilyn Ann (2011). Raoul Walsh: The True Adventures of Hollywood's Legendary Director. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. p. 334. ISBN 978-0813133935.
- City of nets: a portrait of Hollywood in the 1940s By Otto Friedrich
- "Paula Walling's Hollywood Film Gossip.". Sunday Mail (Brisbane: National Library of Australia). 19 March 1944. p. 7. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
- Alan Ladd – Biography – MSN Movies
- "STARS WHO PLEASE— AND TEASE.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia). 14 December 1950. p. 2. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
- "PARAMOUNT SIGNS LADD TO NEW PACT: Studio and Actor Arrange for Deal Whereby He Will Make One Film a Year on Lot" by THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 29 Feb 1952: 19.
- "THIS LADD STEPPING OUT ON HIS OWN" Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 6 April 1952: E1.
- Broccoli, Albert R. & Zec, Donald When the Snow Melts: The Autobiography of Cubby Broccoli Trans-Atlantic Publications 1999
- Bryan Forbes, A Divided Life, Mandarin, 1993 p3-4
- "Alan Ladd Recovering From Shot" Los Angeles Times 5 Nov 1962: A1.
- Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, 1938–1946 [Archival Database]; World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 64; National Archives at College Park, College Park, Maryland.
- Shipman, David. The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years. New York: Hill & Wang, 1979. ISBN 0-8090-5170-2
- Farber, Stephen; Green, Marc (1984). Hollywood Dynasties. Delilah. p. 182. ISBN 0-887-15000-4.
- Henry, Marilyn; DeSourdis, Ron (1984). The Films of Alan Ladd. Citadel Press. p. 24. ISBN 0-806-50736-5.
- Henry 1981 p.25
- Mennie, James (May 26, 1979). "The Star We Hardly Knew". The Montreal Gazette. p. 32. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
- Bacon, James (January 29, 1964). "Rugged Screen Career of Alan Ladd Ended By Death". Lodi News-Sentinel. p. 15. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- MSN – Movies: Jordan Ladd
- Bacon, James (January 20, 1964). "Movie Actor Alan Ladd Is Found Dead In California Home Of Natural Causes". The Lewiston Daily Sun. p. 1. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- Alan Ladd at Find a Grave
- Kilgallen, Dorothy (June 30, 1964). "Voice of Broadway". New York Journal American. p. 25.
- Alan Ladd, Awards
- Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated
- HOLLYWOOD VIEWS: Production Cost Rise Seem as Result Of New Five-Day Week--Other Items Aurora Blueprint On Ladd's Agenda Entente Cordiale By THOMAS M. PRYOR. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 22 Jan 1956: 99.
- 'DRAMA AND FILM: PIN-UP BETTY GRABLE TOP BOX-OFFICE STAR SCARCITY OF WOMEN IN 'BEST' LIST NOTED; BOB HOPE CLIMBS STEADILY, HITS SECOND', Los Angeles Times 25 Dec 1943: A8
- 'BING CROSBY AGAIN BOX-OFFICE LEADER: VAN JOHNSON SECOND IN FILM POLL OF EXHIBITORS—ROGERS WINS FOR WESTERNS', New York Times 28 Dec 1945: 21.
- 'Bing Crosby Again Tops Money-Making Star List', Los Angeles Times 27 Dec 1946: A3.
- "FILM WORLD.". The West Australian (Perth: National Library of Australia). 28 February 1947. p. 20 Edition: SECOND EDITION. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "Anna Neagle Most Popular Actress.". The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 3 January 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- 'Hope Edges Out Crosby as Box-Office Champ; Wayne, Williams', Los Angeles Times 30 Dec 1949: 15
- "TOPS AT HOME.". The Courier-Mail (Brisbane: National Library of Australia). 31 December 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "Vivien Leigh Actress of the Year.". Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld.: National Library of Australia). 29 December 1951. p. 1. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "Martin And Lewis Top U.S. Film Poll.". The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 27 December 1952. p. 3. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "FILM FANS FANCY MR. COOPER.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia). 1 January 1954. p. 6. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "POPULAR IN FILMS.". The Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia). 30 December 1954. p. 1. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "JOHN WAYNE HEADS BOX-OFFICE POLL.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia). 31 December 1954. p. 6. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- 'Dirk Bogarde favourite film actor', The Irish Times 29 Dec 1955: 9.
- Official website
- Alan Ladd at the Internet Movie Database
- Alan Ladd at the TCM Movie Database
- Alan Ladd at Virtual History