Alan Ladd was one of the top actors in the Golden Age of Hollywood. Despite growing up destitute, and moving around a lot, he managed to slowly carve out a career in the movie industry, and became an incredibly popular leading man. Ladd known for being handsome, blond-haired, and short. Reports of his height varied from 5 foot 5 to 5 foot 9. And while short leading men in quite common in Hollywood now, in those days it was more common for actors to be on the taller side.
So Ladd’s height was notable in that way. Sadly though, his rough childhood and his physical traits led him to a life of emotional turmoil. While he enjoyed a lot of acting success in the 1940’s and into the ‘50s, his life and career during a serious downturn after that. By the early 1960’s, his career had stalled out.
And what’s worse, he had developed alcoholism and intensifying emotional issues that ultimately led to his early demise. In this video, we’re taking a look at his death and the film that came out afterward, as well as some interesting stories and facts about this star’s life and career. So join Facts Verse, as we take a look at how Alan Ladd’s last screen role released after his untimely death.
Alan Ladd was one of the classic movie stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood. While he got somewhat of a late start, in Hollywood terms, he was able to move his way up the ladder and find huge success. Born in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1913, Ladd’s father died of a heart attack when the boy was only 4. His mother eventually took him to Oklahoma City, where she remarried. A couple of years later, the three moved to the Los Angeles area.
It was there that Ladd first had a taste of acting, performing in The Mikado at his high school. Amazingly, a talent scout was in the audience for one of his performances, and took a liking to young Alan’s abilities. As such, he offered a contract with Universal Pictures as a rising young discovery. And while that contract didn’t yield much work (and Ladd eventually dropped from Universal after they decided he was too short and too blond) it did give him a taste of success that he was then able to chase.
Ladd Becomes a Hollywood Hit
Alan got the acting bug and began auditioning for roles in town. And, like, many actors, he had to pay his dues before finding success. He spent most of the 1930’s working steadily, but nothing more than work as an unnamed extra. He played sailors, soldiers, and other important but unnamed parts with no lines. But after a decade of toil, he had a breakout role at age 29. He starred in This Gun For Hire, alongside Veronica Lake. This immediately turned him into Hollywood’s latest hot up-and-comer.
He followed up that movie with a string of successful detective movies. And while he was never the primary good guy, he became a star for his portrayal of cool and calculating villains. So despite never being the lead in a movie, per se, he developed into one of the most popular leading men in Hollywood during the 1940’s. Join Facts Verse, as we take a look at how Alan Ladd’s last screen role released after his untimely death.
Ladd’s controversial death
Alan lived a wild and tumultuous life. He experienced the peaks of fame and stardom, yet sank to the intense lows of alcoholism and other health issues. By the 1960’s, Ladd’s career had all but stalled out. He had never been truly comfortable with being a movie star in the first place. For instance, he lacked a basic confidence in his looks, despite literally a face adored by millions. He’s on record as saying he had the face of an “aging choirboy.” He equally dissatisfied with his build, and once mocked that his body looked like a featherweight boxer suffering from malnutrition.
He was also full of self doubt about his talents as an actor. The combination of these traits, plus his tendency to drink throughout his life, only pushed him further into the depths of alcoholism. This, in turn, made him look bloated and less attractive, which made him less likely to get roles.
So it was a vicious cycle of sorts. In 1962 he involved in a strange accident where he ended up shooting himself in the chest with a handgun. He badly injured, but survived it. Ladd later claimed it was a freak accident. But there was also speculation that he was attempting to kill himself. Sadly, he didn’t last much longer after the incident. He died in his sleep in 1964 at age 50 from a mix of alcohol, sleeping pills, and barbiturates. There’s continued speculation that he had killed himself, though it never ruled a suicide.
His Posthumous Appearance
While Ladd had been having trouble getting roles in the years before this death, he did manage to work occasionally. And the roles he did get in those later years tended to do very poorly at the box office. However, one of his biggest hits released after his untimely death. He had a role in “The Carpetbaggers” that he filmed shortly before his death. The movie came out in theaters after Ladd died however. But it ended up being one of the highest grossing movies of that year. It was perhaps a fitting ending to a man with a ton of talent and success, but who never quite felt comfortable with his success.
Before we dive into some more interesting trivia about Alan Ladd’s life, be sure to give this video a like, and subscribe to Facts Verse if you haven’t already! Join Facts Verse, as we take a look at how Alan Ladd’s last screen role released after his untimely death.
Ladd’s Tiny Frame
Ladd was known for being one of the shortest actors in Hollywood, and managed to have a strong career in spite of it. However, being teased a child about it gave him a complex that he never managed to get rid of. When Alan initially moved to LA with his mom and stepfather, he was the oldest in his grade. Yet the family was incredibly poor, so he was quite malnourished and skinny. Beyond that, he was also quite short. As such, his classmates took to immediately calling him “Tiny.” They also constantly teased and bullied Ladd, due to his small stature. This stuck with Ladd, and contributed to his emotional turmoil as an adult.
Though there was at least one good thing about his small frame. Once he managed to fill out a bit more, his frame was perfect for swimming and diving. Ladd became so good at both that he actually tried out for the Olympic team. But sadly, he had head injury during a practice that soured the experience. He decided to quit swimming and diving, and work on other things. Since he was already in LA, it made sense to at least try to find work in the entertainment business. As a young man, he was able to get a low level job at Warner Bros., working as a grip. But his string of tough luck when it came to his body continued at that job too.
Not long after taking the job, he managed to fall off of some scaffolding on the Warner Bros. lot. While he wasn’t badly injured, the fall took enough of a physical toll that he decided to immediately quit the job. However, he was still enamored of the Hollywood scene, so he set his sights on acting instead of working behind the camera. Join Facts Verse, as we take a look at how Alan Ladd’s last screen role was released after his untimely death.
He Met His Wife Via The Radio
Ladd was married and divorced in his early days, and found himself single once again. He’d gained enough career traction that he’d been cast on a radio show. He was voicing the parts of a father and a son, and was quite adept at both. At the same time, a former silent film actress and current agent named Sue Carol heard Ladd’s performance, and was impressed. She particularly liked the way he was able to seamlessly move from one character to the next and make them both sound convincing. She set about to meet up with Ladd, to potentially represent him. Ladd was excited at the possibility, and agreed. But what neither of them knew was that they’d soon be much more than business partners.
They soon became romantically involved, and Carol signed Ladd to her agency. She became his girlfriend and his industry advocate all in one fell swoop! A few years later, the two got married. Reportedly there were some in town who felt this marriage might have been one of convenience, but Ladd and Carol always insisted it was a relationship build on genuine love. Join Facts Verse, as we take a look at how Alan Ladd’s last screen role was released after his untimely death.
Ladd’s life and career was, in some ways, a classic Hollywood story. He came from poverty, and an unstable family life. But he managed to slowly work his way up and achieve stardom. And yet, this stardom, along with the emotional issues he had throughout his life, ultimately led to a tragic and early death. It’s a bittersweet story of a man who, on one hand, was a talented and handsome actor, and on the other, was a troubled and emotional wreck.
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