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 in January 1964. Early life: 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 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. Career: Intent on acting, he found work in small theatres. He had short term stints at MGM and RKO, and eventually started getting steady work on radio. 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. Stardom: 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 he. 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. Ladd went on to star in many Paramount Pictures' films, with a brief timeout for military service in the United States Army Air Forces 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 the 1949 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 filmgoers. In 1950 the Hollywood Women's Press Club voted him the easiest male star to deal with in Hollywood. Leaving Paramount: 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 also (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. Height: 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. Personal life: 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. On March 15, 1942, Ladd married his agent and manager, former film actress Sue Carol, with whom he had two children, Alana (born 1947) and David Alan. 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. Death: On January 29, 1964, Ladd was found dead in his Palm Springs, California home. His death was attributed to cerebral edema caused by an acute overdose of "alcohol and three other drugs"; his death was ruled accidental. Ladd suffered from chronic insomnia and regularly used sleeping pills and alcohol. It was determined that he had not taken a lethal amount of either, but that the combination can produce a synergistic reaction in which "one plus one equals ten or even fifty." 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, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him. Select radio credits: Regular series: Box 13: 52 episodes (22 August 1948 - 14 August 1949), Filmography: Film Year Title Role Notes 1932 Tom Brown of Culver Cadet 1932 Once in a Lifetime Projectionist 1933 Saturday's Millions Student 1936 Pigskin Parade Student 1937 Last Train from Madrid !The Last Train from Madrid Soldier 1937 Souls at Sea Sailor 1937 All Over Town Young Man 1937 Hold 'Em Navy Chief Quartermaster 1938 Goldwyn Follies !The Goldwyn Follies First Auditioning Singer 1938 Come On, Leathernecks! Club Waiter 1938 Freshman Year Student 1939 Mysterious Miss X !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, Uncredited 1940 Meat and Romance Bill Allen Short subject 1940 Unfinished Rainbows Charles Martin Hall Short subject 1940 Green Hornet !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 Light of Western Stars !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 Howards of Virginia !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 Black Cat !The Black Cat Richard Hartley 1941 Paper Bullets Jimmy Kelly aka Bill Dugan 1941 Reluctant Dragon !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, Uncredited 1942 Joan of Paris "Baby" 1942 This Gun for Hire Philip Raven 1942 Glass Key !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 China David Jones 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 Duffy's Tavern Himself 1945 Hollywood Victory Caravan Alan Ladd Short subject 1946 Two Years Before the Mast Charles Stewart 1946 Blue Dahlia !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 Calcutta Neale Gordon 1947 Variety Girl Himself 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 Great Gatsby !The Great Gatsby Jay Gatsby 1949 Chicago Deadline Ed Adams 1950 Captain Carey, U.S.A. Captain Webster Carey 1950 Branded Choya 1951 Appointment with Danger Al Goddard 1951 Red Mountain Capt. Brett Sherwood 1952 Iron Mistress !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 Shane Shane 1953 Red Beret !The Red Beret Steve "Canada" McKendrick 1954 Hell Below Zero Duncan Craig 1954 Saskatchewan Thomas O'Rourke 1954 Black Knight !The Black Knight John 1954 Drum Beat Johnny MacKay Producer 1955 McConnell Story !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 Big Land !The Big Land Chad Morgan Producer 1957 Boy on a Dolphin Dr. James Calder 1958 Deep Six !The Deep Six Alexander "Alec" Austen Producer 1958 Proud Rebel !The Proud Rebel John Chandler 1958 Badlanders !The Badlanders Peter Van Hoek ("The Dutchman") 1959 Man in the Net !The Man in the Net John Hamilton Producer 1959 Island of Lost Women - Executive producer 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 Carpetbaggers !The Carpetbaggers Nevada Smith Released posthumously Television Year Title Role Notes 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" Box office ranking: For a number of years, film exhibitors voted him amongst the top stars at the box office. Year USA Britain 1943 15th 1945 15th 1946 14th 8th 1947 10th 7th 1949 17th 7th 1950 (did not make top 25) 8th 1951 17th 8th 1952 16th 1953 4th 3rd 1954 6th 1st 1955 17th 5th 1956 25th

Source: Wikipedia

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