Laura La Plante
Laura La Plante
Publicity photo of La Plante from Stars of the Photoplay (1924)
November 1, 1904
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||October 14, 1996 (aged 91)|
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||William A. Seiter |
(m.1934–1985; his death); 2 children
Laura La Plante (November 1, 1904 – October 14, 1996) was an American actress, primarily known for her work in the silent film era.
Silent film 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 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), Around the World in Eighteen Days (1923), and several Western movies with Hoot Gibson.
The majority of the films starring LaPlante (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 LaPlante's earliest surviving films is the 1925 film Smouldering Fires, 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 also adapted from the 1926 novel, 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, La Plante 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 alongside a young John Wayne.
La Plante subsequently went to Britain to work at Warner Brother's Teddington Studios. The company had faced criticism for the low quality of its "quota quickies", and her arrival coincided with an attempt to make more expensive productions. She starred in 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. In this episode, La Plante discussed numerous topics including 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 Hundred Stars" event.
Laura La Plante died at the age of 91 in Woodland Hills, California. Her death was due to Alzheimer's disease. Despite contrary belief about her rumored interment at El Camino Memorial Park in San Diego, California, La Plante was actually cremated by Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, California with her ashes scattered at sea.
|1922||Perils of the Yukon||Olga||Presumed Lost|
|The Wall Flower||Prue Nickerson|
|1923||Around the World in Eighteen Days||Madge Harlow||Lost|
|Dead Game||Alice Mason|
|Shootin' for Love||Mary Randolph|
|Out of Luck||Mae Day|
|The Ramblin' Kid||Carolyn June|
|The Thrill Chaser||Cameo Appearance|
|1924||Sporting Youth||Betty Rockford|
|The Dangerous Blonde||Diane Faraday|
|Young Ideas||Octavia Lowden|
|Ride for Your Life||Betsy Burke|
|The Fatal Plunge||Undertemined Role|
|The Fast Worker||Connie Fowler|
|1925||Smouldering Fires||Dorothy Vale|
|The Teaser||Ann Barton||Lost|
|Dangerous Innocence||Ann Church||Lost|
|1926||The Beautiful Cheat||Mary Callahan / Maritza Callahansky|
|Skinner's Dress Suit||Mrs. Honey Skinner|
|The Midnight Sun||Olga 'The Midnight Sun' Morova|
|Her Big Night||Frances Norcross/Daphne Dix|
|Butterflies in the Rain||Mrs. Glenson|
|Poker Faces||Betty Whitmore|
|1927||The Love Thrill||Joyce Bragdon||Lost|
|Beware of Widows||Joyce Bragdon|
|Silk Stockings||Tina Carteret|
|The Cat and the Canary||Annabelle West|
|1928||Thanks for the Buggy Ride||Jenny|
|Finders Keepers||Barbara Hastings|
|Home, James||Laura Elliot|
|1929||The Last Warning||Doris Terry|
|Show Boat||Magnolia Hawks|
|The Love Trap||Evelyn Todd|
|Hold Your Man||Mary|
|1930||King of Jazz||Editor|
|Captain of the Guard||Marie Marnay|
|1931||Stout Hearts and Willing Hands||The Heroine|
|Arizona||Evelyn Palmer Bonham|
|God's Gift to Women||Diane Churchill|
|Lonely Wives||Diane O'Dare|
|Too Many Women|
|Meet the Wife||Gertrude Lennox|
|The Sea Ghost||Evelyn Inchcape|
|1933||Her Imaginary Lover||Celia|
|1934||The Girl in Possession||Eve Chandler|
|The Church Mouse||Betty 'Miss Church Mouse' Miller|
|1935||Widow's Might||Nancy Tweesdale|
|Man of the Moment||Mary Briany|
|1947||Little Mister Jim||Mrs. Glenson|
|1957||Spring Reunion||May Brewster|
- Brownlow, Kevin (October 16, 1996). "Obituary: Laura La Plante". Independent. Archived from the original on October 4, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Drew, William. Speaking of Silents. Vestal, NJ. Vestal Press, 1989, p. 89. ISBN 0-911572-81-3
- [Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses p. 210]
- Kreuger, Miles. Show Boat – The Story of a Classic American Musical. New York, NY. Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 97.
- John Wayne: American ISBN 0-8032-8970-7 p. 702
- Morphosyntactic Categories and the Expression of Possession ISBN 978-9-027-27300-0 p. 192
- from the DVD Groucho Marx --You Bet Your Life put out by "TV Classics"
- "Hollywood Star Walk: Laura La Plante". Los Angeles Times. October 16, 1996. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
- Wilson, Scott (September 16, 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland – via Google Books.
- Laura La Plante Dr – Google Maps (Map) (2014 ed.). Google Maps. Retrieved 2014-08-05.
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