Full Name: Alan Walbridge Ladd Jr.
Born: September 3, 1913, in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Died: January 29, 1964
Father of: Alan Ladd, Jr., David Ladd, and former actress Alana Ladd
Alan Ladds early life was anything but easy. His mother, Ina Raleigh, was an English immigrant and his father, Alan Ladd Sr., was an accountant used to traveling frequently. When Alan was four, his father died, leaving him and his mother alone and economically insecure. Dreaming of a better life, Ina and Alan moved to Oklahoma City where Ina re-married.
Soon after, the family decided to move to California in search of employment opportunities. Once they reached California, an undernourished and undersized Alan, faced difficulties in school. High school was better for Alan. He became involved in sports and participated in school productions.
However, Ladd was still a long ways away from entering the world of Hollywood film-making. Before becoming an actor, Ladd worked a number of odd jobs including gas station attendant, hot dog vendor, and lifeguard.
Before he became a star, Ladd played small parts in radio shows and local theatre productions. For two years, he also worked as a grip on the Warners lot.
At the beginning of his career, Ladd played mostly minor parts, such as the role of a reporter in Orson Welles Citizen Kane (1914). In October 1936, Ladd married Marjorie Jane Harrold, and in 1937, Alan Ladd Jr. was born.
Despite Ladds initial troubles getting noticed in the Hollywood community, the persistence of Ladds agent, former screen actress, Sue Carol, helped the actor get more important roles in films. Carol became Ladds second wife in 1942. That same year the actor got his big break with Paramounts This Gun for Hire, in which Ladd played a paid killer.
The response to the film was so favorable that Ladd instantly became a star. His co-star in the film, Veronica Lake, matched Ladds icy eyes and blond stolid look so well that the studio teamed them for several other productions that were extremely popular among movie-goers. Among them were The Glass Key, The Blue Dahlia, and Saigon.
Through the mid 50s, Ladd remained with Paramount, making a number of films where he played dynamic, action-packed roles. The western Shane gave Ladd the opportunity to play an honest character troubled by conflicting emotions. Ladds magnetism and his beautiful portrayal of the character made the movie one of Ladds "classics."
After Shane, Ladd continued making films until his death at age 51. Ladds blond good looks, charisma, and stoic presence were apparent in all the movies that he made. It is this magnetism that will keep him in the memory of the audiences who loved him.
SUBMITTED BY: Misty Flannigan
Feb 13, 1998