Alan Walbridge Ladd (September 3, 1913 – January 29, 1964) was an American film actor.
Ladd was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas to an American father (Alan Ladd, Sr.) and an English-American mother (Ina Raleigh Ladd). 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. 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 several Paramount Pictures' films with a brief timeout for military service with 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 WWII 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.
Jean Arthur and Alan Ladd in Shane (1953)
Ladd's 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 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 co-starred 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 sedatives at the age of 50, which was ruled accidental. He was entombed in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
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.
He had married a high-school acquaintance, Midge Harrold, with whom he had a son, Alan Ladd, Jr. His 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 the 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. Despite Alan Ladd's fathering three children, he regularly socialized with members of Hollywood's gay subculture in the luxurious home of George Cukor. It was the site of weekly Sunday afternoon parties attended by closeted celebrities and the attractive young men they met in bars and gyms and brought with them. Whether Ladd was sexually involved with any of them is not recorded for posterity. At least one gay historian has speculated Ladd may have questioned his sexuality and this contributed to his emotional state on the night of his untimely death. Ladd was found dead at his home from on overdose of "alcohol and three other drugs".
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.
|Paper Bullets||Jimmy Kelly aka Bill Dugan||1941|
|The Reluctant Dragon||Al, Baby Weems storyboard artist||1941|
|Joan of Paris||"Baby"||1942|
|This Gun for Hire||Philip Raven||1942|
|The Glass Key||Ed Beaumont||1942|
|The Blue Dahlia||Johnny Morrison - Lt.Cmdr., ret.||1946|
|Saigon||Maj. Larry Briggs||1948|
|Chicago Deadline||Ed Adams||1949|
|Thunder in the East||Steve Gibbs||1952|
|Hell on Frisco Bay||Steve Rollins||1955|
|Santiago||Caleb 'Cash' Adams||1956|
|Boy on a Dolphin||Dr. James 'Jim' Calder||1957|
|The Badlanders||Peter Van Hoek / The Dutchman||1958|
|Les Horaces et les Curiaces||acteur||1961|
|Duel of Champions||Horatius||1961|
|13 West Street||Walt Sherill||1962|
|The Carpetbaggers||Nevada Smith||1964|
|Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid||(in "This Gun For Hire") (archive footage)||1982|