Hollywood Remains to Be Seen

Alan Ladd
1913 - 1964

Forest Lawn Glendale

Alan Ladd worked an assortment of odd jobs around Hollywood before finding work as a handyman on the Warner Bros. lot. He made his screen debut in a small role in "Tom Brown of Culver" (1932), and appeared in small roles in a dozens of minor films through the 1930s, typically playing college students, soldiers, sailors and friends of the featured actors. His early screen appearances included uncredited roles as one of the beasts in "Island of Lost Souls" (1933), and a pipe-smoking reporter in "Citizen Kane" (1941).

The short -- 5-foot-5 -- fair-haired, unemotional Ladd was not considered a leading-man type of actor, and he may have remained in supporting roles if not for the persistence of his agent, former actress Sue Carol, who became Ladd's wife in 1942. Carol helped Ladd land the role of cold-blooded killer Philip Raven in "This Gun for Hire" (1942), co-starring Veronica Lake. Ladd's detached coolness made him a perfect match for Lake, and they were paired in six more films during the 1940s, including "The Glass Key (1942), "The Blue Dahlia" (1946) and "Saigon" (1948).

Ladd's best-known role was as the mysterious gunfighter who wants to hang up his six-shooters, but is forced to defend a homesteading family in "Shane" (1953). Ladd's icy coolness, punctuated by two-fisted action, made him a favorite among film fans, who apparently didn't mind that Ladd was often several inches shorter than his co-stars. Though never nominated for an Academy Award, Ladd was named the Most Popular Male Star in the Photoplay Awards in 1953, as voted by the readers of Photoplay magazine. The following year, he won a Golden Globe award as World Film Favorite.

Ladd continued starring in action-packed films throughout the 1950s, including "The Red Beret" (1953), "Hell Below Zero" (1954), "Saskatchewan" (1954), "Hell on Frisco Bay" (1955), "The Proud Rebel" (1958), "The Badlanders" (1958) and "One Foot in Hell" (1960), but he was never able to match his earlier successes. In November 1962, Ladd was seriously injured in what was officially described as an "accidental" self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest. Slightly over a year later, he died of an overdose of sedatives mixed with alcohol at the age of 50.

Ladd's final film appearance was in "The Carpetbaggers" (1964), which was released several months after his death.

Ladd's three children have all been involved in the film industry. Ladd's oldest son, Alan Ladd Jr., is a successful film producer and studio executive. His youngest son, David Ladd, is an actor, producer and former husband of actress Cheryl Ladd. And his daughter, Alana Ladd, appeared in three Westerns in the early 1960s -- two starring her father, and "Young Guns of Texas" (1962), which starred several children of more-famous acting parents.

In front of Ladd's crypt is a small bust of the actor, dressed in his "Shane" costume.

Ladd was born Alan Walbridge Ladd on Sept. 3, 1913 in Hot Springs, AR. He died on Jan. 29, 1964, in Palm Springs, CA.

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