Laura La Plante

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Laura La Plante
Laura La Plante Stars of the Photoplay.jpg
Publicity photo of La Plante from Stars of the Photoplay (1924)
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, primarily known for her work in the silent film era.

Silent film 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.[1] 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),[2] and several Western movies with Hoot Gibson.

LaPlante in 1920. She is seen here alongside Bobby Vernon in an image published within the Exhibitors Herald

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",[3] 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),[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

Transition to "talking films"[edit]

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.[7]

Later career[edit]

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.[8] 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.[9] 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 at the age of 91 in Woodland Hills, California. Her death was due to Alzheimer's disease.[10] 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.[11]

Legacy[edit]

Partial filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Note
1920 813 Genevieve Presumed Lost
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
Excitement Nila Lyons
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
Butterfly Dora Collier
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
High Society
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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brownlow, Kevin (October 16, 1996). "Obituary: Laura La Plante". Independent. Archived from the original on October 4, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017. 
  2. ^ silenthollywood.com
  3. ^ Drew, William. Speaking of Silents. Vestal, NJ. Vestal Press, 1989, p. 89. ISBN 0-911572-81-3
  4. ^ [Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses p. 210]
  5. ^ silenthollywood.com
  6. ^ Kreuger, Miles. Show Boat – The Story of a Classic American Musical. New York, NY. Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 97.
  7. ^ John Wayne: American ISBN 0-8032-8970-7 p. 702
  8. ^ Morphosyntactic Categories and the Expression of Possession ISBN 978-9-027-27300-0 p. 192
  9. ^ from the DVD Groucho Marx --You Bet Your Life put out by "TV Classics"
  10. ^ "Hollywood Star Walk: Laura La Plante". Los Angeles Times. October 16, 1996. Retrieved March 14, 2018. 
  11. ^ Wilson, Scott (September 16, 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland – via Google Books. 
  12. ^ Laura La Plante Dr – Google Maps (Map) (2014 ed.). Google Maps. Retrieved 2014-08-05. 

External links[edit]