Laraine Day was a Golden Age actress that made a name for herself in Hollywood as a rare Mormon actress. The actress never made a big fuss about her faith, but those who knew her best might’ve noticed that she abstained from many of the vices that plagued her contemporaries. Join Facts Verse as we explore how Laraine Day never swore, smoked, or drank alcohol her whole life.
Laraine Day Was Born Into the Mormon Faith
Laraine Day was born on October 13, 1920, in Roosevelt Utah. Like many families in the state before and since, Laraine’s family practiced the Mormon faith. Laraine was born to a wealthy family, and she had seven siblings. Her father dealt in grain, while her great-grandfather had been a notable Mormon pioneer. Despite blending in well in Utah, Laraine’s family decided around the time that she became a teenager to move to California. It was in California that Laraine first became interested in acting. She started performing with the Long Beach Players, which was a troupe that also included future star Robert Mitchum. Years later, the two would go on to appear together on the big screen.
Laraine Day graduated from Polytechnic High School in 1938, which is a high school located in Long Beach. While she was still in high school, Laraine’s work with the Long Beach Players led to her first Hollywood contract. That first contract was with Samuel Goldwyn Studio. For her first role on the big screen, Laraine was cast in the 1937 feature Stella Dallas. Sadly, not much came of this initial contract. At the time, producer Samuel Goldwyn determined that the actress was lacking in talent. Thankfully, RKO Pictures felt differently. The compete studio picked Laraine up once she became available, and it set about casting her alongside notable star George O’Brien in a variety of Westerns.
As Laraine Day was making a name for herself on the big screen thanks to RKO Pictures, she was also making a name for herself within the entertainment community by starting up a Los Angeles-centered playhouse specifically designed for Mormon performers. One of the people that Laraine came into contact with via her Mormon playhouse was none other than science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury. Long before becoming famous as a writer, Ray allegedly did some stage-prop work for Laraine’s Los Angeles playhouse.
Laraine Found Her Early Success with MGM
Towards the end of the 1930s, Laraine Day signed a contract with MGM. The studio went about casting the actress in the Dr. Kildare series of movies, and Laraine’s work with the studio ended up bringing her more attention than ever before. Laraine’s first appearance working for the studio was in 1939’s Calling Dr. Kildare. Lew Ayres, of course, played Dr. Kildare. As Laraine was doing her successful work with MGM, she also continued working with other studios. Some of the non-MGM projects of note that the actress appeared in around the time period include the Alfred Hitchcock-directed thriller My Son, My Son! The film was released in 1940, fairly early in Alfred’s storied career.
In 1941, Laraine Day was determined via a poll to be the most promising starlet in all of Hollywood. That same year, she was given the chance to appear alongside future United States President Ronald Reagan. Laraine appeared alongside the future politician in the film The Bad Man, which was a Western-themed comedy. At the time, Ronald Reagan wasn’t quite the big Hollywood star that he was soon to become. He was only the third male lead in the feature, with the bigger male parts being played by Wallace Beery and Lionel Barrymore. Still, Ronald Reagan must’ve felt like a pretty big deal on the set with Laraine as his love interest.
Towards the middle of the 1940s, Laraine decided to exit from her contract with MGM so that she could sign on once more with RKO Pictures. The increased stardom that the actress had garnered in the years since leaving her last contract allowed her to negotiate a pretty lucrative one this time around. The contract, which was only set to last for five years, alleged that Laraine only had to make one picture per year. For each picture the actress would be awarded a sum of $100,000. Given that this was the 1940s, this was a whole lot of money! Laraine had it made, and she continued her career on top of the world. Besides the aforementioned legends, so of the many other notable performers that Laraine got the chance to grace the screen alongside during her time include John Wayne, Cary Grant, and Lana Turner.
Laraine Later Made a Career Change Into Journalism
In the 1950s, Laraine Day made a slight career change that allowed her celebrity status to have more longevity than it might have had otherwise. Realizing that her days as a leading lady may be fleeting, Laraine decided instead to become the host of her own television series! The series premiered in 1951. Though it was a success, it couldn’t decide on a name. Depending on the moment, the series was known as either Daydreaming with Laraine or The Laraine Day Show. The success that Laraine found with the series led to her getting her own radio show in 1952.
Though Laraine found a new career for herself as an unlikely journalist, she also continued working as an actress. For the most part, her acting was on the stage. Some of the notable productions that Laraine appeared in later in her career include The Time of the Cuckoo, The Women, and Lost Horizon. Laraine was also married three times over the course of her life, and her second marriage opened up a small career tangent for the actress in the world of 1950s sports. Laraine’s first husband was a man by the name of James Ray Hendricks. Though James had once been entertainer, he was a successful executive working at Santa Monica Airport when he and Laraine married in 1942. The marriage lasted for several years, during which time the couple adopted three children. Laraine filed for divorce from her first husband in 1946, though she was only granted an interlocutory divorce. For those unfamiliar, this means that the divorced party has to wait a year before remarrying.
One might think that the interlocutory divorce may have been good enough for Laraine Day’s purposes, but this wasn’t the case. Laraine already had a second husband lined up when she filed for divorce from her first, and she didn’t want to wait to see if she was still attracted to her new love interest in a year. Laraine wanted to marry her second husband right then and there, and she was so adamant that she went about crafting a scheme that would allow her to bypass the interlocutory divorce. Laraine’s scheme saw her travel across the border to Mexico to receive a divorce there. Once the divorce was secured on January 21, 1947, Laraine attempted to marry second husband Leo Durocher the very next day. The attempted wedding occurred in Texas, but it was later revealed that the marriage wasn’t official because the divorce that Laraine had received in Mexico didn’t count.
Laraine’s Unlikely Career Tangent in the World of Baseball
All complications aside, Laraine ended up sticking it out with Leo Durocher and marrying the man at the proper time. The marriage occurred in February of 1948, a little over a year after the interlocutory divorce. Leo was a baseball manager, and Laraine became very interested in baseball herself over the course of their marriage. During the marriage, Leo managed the New York Giants. The marriage inspired Laraine to write a book by the name of Day with the Giants, and the successful book led to a short television program of the same name. Fitting right in with Laraine’s later career change into journalism, the show consisted of interviews.
Despite Laraine’s apparent passion for both her second husband and his career choice, the pair ended up getting divorced sooner rather than later. When all was said and done, their marriage only lasted for a little over a decade. They divorced in 1960, and Laraine once again had a replacement spouse ready and waiting. This time, the replacement spouse was a television producer by the name of Michael Grilikhes. The third time proved a charm for Laraine, as her and Michael stayed married form 1961 until his death in 2007. Over the course of their marriage, they had two children. Laraine’s propensity for getting divorced and remarried during her life may lead someone to falsely assume that she was a loose woman. However, Laraine was actually a devout Mormon throughout her entire life.
Once Laraine became a Hollywood star, her Mormonism wasn’t talked about all that much. However, it remained a gigantic influence on her life. Because of her faith, Laraine never became interested in typical Hollywood vice like drinking and smoking. Laraine not only refrained from alcohol and tobacco during her lifetime, but she also refused to utter curse words! The actress’s faith coincided with her Conservative values. Not only did Laraine star alongside Ronald Reagan in a motion picture, but she would also go on to support him in his bid to become president of the United States. Before that, she was a supporter of such Republican figureheads and Ronald Reagan and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
How Laraine Day Spent Her Twilight Years
Laraine Day moved back to her home state of Utah during her twilight years, after the death of her aforementioned third husband. Laraine herself died only a few months later, though the cause of her death was never disclosed. During her time in Utah, the actress was living with one of her daughters. When she passed, she was 87 years old.
Laraine Day was an atypical Hollywood starlet in that she never swore, smoked, or drank alcohol. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that actress Laraine Day was a devout Mormon, and that her faith kept her from succumbing to traditional Hollywood vices? Comment down below!