Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake made seven movies together: The Blue Dahlia (1946), Duffy's Tavern (1945), The Glass Key (1942), Saigon (1948), Star Spangled Rhythm (1942), This Gun for Hire (1942) and Variety Girl (1947). In Variety Girl (1947), Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) and Duffy's Tavern (1945), they appear as themselves.
I have the face of an aging choirboy and the build of an undernourished featherweight. If you can figure out my success on the screen you're a better man than I.
-- Alan Ladd
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Alan Ladd
Alan Walbridge Ladd
3 September 1913, Hot Springs, Arkansas
29 January 1964, Palm Springs, California
Alan Walbridge Ladd (September 3, 1913 – January 29, 1964) was an American film actor.

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 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. Intent on acting, he found work in radio.

Ladd began by appearing in dozens of films in small roles, including Citizen Kane in which he played one of the "faceless" reporters who are always shown in silhouette. He first gained some recognition with a featured role in the wartime thriller Joan of Paris, 1942. For his next role, his manager, Sue Carol, found a vehicle which made Ladd's career, Graham Greene's 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 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.


In 1949's version of The Great Gatsby, Ladd had the featured role of Jay Gatsby.

Ladd played the title role in the 1953 western Shane. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was listed at No. 45 on the American Film Institute's 2007 ranking of "100 Years ... 100 Movies."

Ladd made the Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll three times: in 1947, 1953, and 1954. In 1954 exhibitors voted him the most popular star among British film-goers.

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 (1954), based on Hammond Innes's book The White South; and The Black Knight (1954). All three were co-written by Ladd's regular screenwriter Richard Maibaum. 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.

Alan 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.

Alan Ladd's mother was Selina Rowley, born Chester-le-Street County Durham, in late 1888. She used the stage name Ina Raleigh and emigrated to the USA in 1907, aged 19.

He had married a high-school acquaintance, Midge Harrold. Their only child, a son named Alan Ladd, Jr., was born in 1937. Ladd's stepfather died suddenly. Then his mother, who suffered from depression, committed suicide by poison.

In 1942, Ladd married his agent/manager, former movie actress Sue Carol.

Ladd owned properties in Beverly Hills and, in Palm Springs, Alan Ladd Hardware. His son by his first wife Midge Harrold, Alan Ladd, Jr., is a motion picture executive and producer and founder of The Ladd Company. His daughter actress Alana, 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. Another son, actor David Ladd, who co-starred with Ladd as a child in The Proud Rebel, married Charlie's Angels star Cheryl Ladd, 1973-1980. Actress Jordan Ladd is his granddaughter.

As with many Hollywood stars, Ladd is sometimes described as either a social adherent to, or member of, the gay subculture. No reliable evidence has been published to substantiate such claims, but they do exist. At least one gay historian has gone so far with speculation as to suggest that Ladd's suicide attempt(s) may have been related to unsubstantiated sexual questioning.

Reports of his height vary from 5'5" to 5'9" (from his military records) (1.65 to 1.75 m), with 5'6" (1.68 m) being the most generally accepted today.
Father of Alan Ladd Jr. with first wife, Marjorie 'Midge' Harrold. Father of Alana Ladd and David Ladd with second wife, Sue Carol. Grandfather of Jordan Ladd.

Interred at Forest Lawn, Glendale, California, USA, in the Freedom Mausoleum, Sanctuary of Heritage.

Owing to a clerical error, Ladd was inaccurately included in the cast credits for Born to the West (1937) in studio publicity material. In fact, he was never in the film, despite the fact that it often shows up in his credits and even on the video box!.

In his movies, suffers two cat-o-nine-tails floggings aboard sailing ships: (1) in Two Years Before the Mast (1946), he receives 10 lashes for striking an officer; (2) in Botany Bay (1953), he receives 50 lashes for attempting to escape from a prison transport ship.

He so badly wanted the title role in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) that he personally pressed his case with director David Lean, but Lean cast Peter O'Toole in the part.

The prisoner he plays in 1953's Botany Bay (1953) is keelhauled, marking what may be the only time a Hollywood leading man suffers this particular form of punishment.

In a 1961 interview Ladd was asked, "What would you change about yourself if you could?" He replied tersely: "Everything."

Ladd portrayed Dan Holiday on Mutual Radio's "Box 13" (1948-1949). This show was also syndicated.

A photograph of his flogging in Two Years Before the Mast (1946) appears on the cover of the 2004 book: "Lash! The Hundred Great Scenes of Men Being Whipped in the Movies".

Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 1601 Vine Street.

In 1956, Ladd proposed a television series based on his radio series "Box 13". The idea didn't sell. Ladd himself had played his "Box 13" character Dan Holiday in the "Committed" episode of "G.E. True Theater" (1953) on television. In 1963, Ladd said he hoped to reunite several of his 1940s era co-stars, including William Bendix and Veronica Lake, for a big screen version of "Box 13".

His former home in Palm Springs, California, is still on the bus tour of movie stars' homes. An office building also bears his name.

According to his biography, the end of his love affair with June Allyson, his co-star in The McConnell Story (1955), led to his late-life depression.

Discovered Rory Calhoun while horseback riding in Griffith Park.

Turned down James Dean's role in Giant (1956) and Spencer Tracy's role in Bad Day at Black Rock (1955).

At the time of his death he had expressed an interest in playing Steve McQueen's role in Nevada Smith (1966).

While he never enjoyed popularity among film critics, Ladd himself and his films were popular with the public. He was mobbed at guest appearances on network radio programs such as "The Lux Radio Theater" and in the 1940s his films grossed almost $55 million.

In 1954 he and Barbara Stanwyck won the top spots in "Modern Screen" magazine's Star of Stars Award competition as the most popular actors among fans in the previous ten years.

He ranked tenth in popularity in a poll of movie fans conducted by the "Motion Picture Herald" in 1947. From 1948-1950, he ranked number one in that poll.

In 1945, he ranked fourth in a "Modern Screen" magazine popularity poll among readers.

In 1943, "Modern Screen" magazine ran sixteen stories on him in its twelve issues that year.

Attempted suicide by shooting himself in November 1962.

In 1934 opened a burger and malt shop named 'Tiny's Patio'.
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