Saturday, September 3, 2011

BORN ON THIS DAY: ALAN LADD

I consider myself to be somewhat of a classic movie fan, but I have to admit I have not seen many movies starring Alan Ladd. I can probably count the amount of them on one hand. In his short life, Ladd was a memorable movie star, and he was born on this day, September 3rd in 1913.

Ladd was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was the only child of Ina Raleigh Ladd and Alan Ladd, Sr. He was of English ancestry. 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 North Hollywood, California where Ladd became a high-school swimming and diving champion and participated in high school dramatics at North Hollywood High School, graduating on February 1st, 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. Intent on acting, he found work in radio.


Ladd went on to star in many Paramount Pictures' films, with a brief timeout for military service in the United States Army Air Force's First Motion Picture Unit. 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.


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/Paratrooper (1953), Hell Below Zero (based on Hammond Innes's book The White South) (1954) and The Black Knight with each co-written by Ladd's regular screenwriter Richard Maibaum. (1954). 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.

In November 1962, he was found lying unconscious in a pool of blood with a bullet wound near his heart, an unsuccessful suicide attempt. In 1963 Ladd filmed a supporting role in The Carpetbaggers. He would not live to see its release. On January 29, 1964 he was found dead in Palm Springs, California, of an acute overdose of "alcohol and three other drugs", at the age of 50; his death was ruled accidental. He was entombed 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...


2 comments:

  1. A favourite Ladd picture of mine is "The Proud Rebel" directed by Michael Curtiz and co-starring Olivia de Havilland and David Ladd. David was one of the more talented acting youngsters of the time. I recall reading once where David described his father as a great movie actor, and I think the more you watch Alan Ladd the more you find that to be true. Behind that cool persona and incredibly sexy voice was the hint of sadness that filled out many of his characters, especially Shane.

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  2. Yes, yes, Alan Ladd, such a beautiful man. I am 74 years old and had no idea he suffered so much mentally. I love certain movies of course. I love Whispering Smith, Shane, Boy on a Dolphin. Thank you for this opportunity. J. Seskin

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