Childhood & Early Life
Ladd was born on September 3, 1913 to Ina Raleigh and Alan Ladd, in the Arkansas region of the United States. His father, who worked as a freelance accountant, died when Ladd was hardly four years old.
After his father’s death, Ina Raleigh got married to a painter Jim Beavers. The couple relocated to the North Hollywood locality of California. It is here where Ladd pursued his primary education.
The days Ladd spent at the ‘North Hollywood High School’, are said to be some of the best days of his childhood and early teens. He actively participated in sports, and went on to become the swimming and diving champion. He all took part in dramatics during his time at this institution.
Since Ladd had tasted success with sports during his school days, he decided to try his luck at the 1932 Olympics. However, his efforts failed.
Post his graduation in 1934, Ladd started his own shop named ‘Tiny’s Patio’. The business involved selling hamburgers and malt. He later worked as a carpenter at a movie studio, just like his stepfather. He even became a coastguard to make ends meet.
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Ladd learnt his first few lessons in acting from the ‘Universal Pictures’ school. He tried his best to bag an opportunity to work in the films produced by the banner. However, he was rejected on grounds of being ‘extremely blonde’ and short.
Ladd worked with small theatre groups, with an intention of keeping his passion for acting alive. He later took up short time jobs with motion picture studios such as ‘MGM’ and ‘RKO’, and moved to radio.
One of the shows on radio, where Ladd spoke, grabbed the attention of an agent named Sue Carol. Carol collaborated with Alan Ladd for few of her books, after which she even helped the man bag his first movie - ‘Rulers of The Sea’, which released in 1939. Ladd was remembered for the role of ‘Colin Farrell’, which he played in this movie.
He was later seen in ‘Citizen Kane’, considered to be one of the most iconic movies of all times, which released in 1941. Ladd played the role of a Newspaper reporter who appears towards the end of the film.
Though he had appeared in several movies but he got noticed for his role in ‘Joan of Paris’, which released in 1942. His role was well appreciated, and soon he was flooded with offers for many small roles in films.
The same year saw the release of another film titled ‘The Gun for Hire’. Ladd’s portrayal of a good-hearted hitman by name Raven was considered to be phenomenal by the audiences, and made him a star overnight.
He even shared screen space with the legendary Hollywood actress Sophia Lauren in the film ‘Boy On a Dolphin’. Ladd’s short stature caused problems in filming, which resulted in an investment on planks and low stands, to make sure that the scenes did not look awkward.
Alan Ladd later worked in ‘The Glass Key’ and ‘Lucky Key’, which were produced by ‘Paramount Pictures’. Both these films, which released in 1942, went on to become box office hits. This created a buzz amongst Industry professionals that the presence of Ladd in a movie can influence its fate.
The year 1946 saw the release of three of Ladd’s movies such as ‘Two Years Before the Mast’, ‘The Blue Dahlia’, and ‘O.S.S’. All the three movies managed to garner great critical acclaim, and are considered to be classics of the silver screen.
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After ruling the silver screen for quite some time, Ladd turned into a producer, and set up his own firms to create content related to films and radio. One such show produced by Ladd for Radio was ‘Box 13’. Alan Ladd played the lead role even in this project, which spoke about a newspaper turned novelist Dan Holiday. The show was aired during the period 1948-49.
In the 1950s Ladd collaborated with American producer Albert Broccoli. The duo collaborated for three films, namely ‘The Red Beret’, ‘Hell Below Zero’, and ‘The Black Knight’. All these films were released by the famous banner ‘Columbia Pictures’, unlike his earlier works, which were released by ‘Paramount’.
After the mid-1950s Ladd’s career began to nosedive. His decision to turn down the film ‘Giant’, proved to be too costly for Ladd. His last film was ‘The Carpetbeggars’, which released in 1964, after his death.
Awards & Achievements
Ladd was honoured with the ‘Golden Apple’ awards in the ‘Most Cooperative Actor’ category on two occasions, once in 1944 and again in 1950.
Alan was voted as ‘The Easiest Star to Deal with in Hollywood’ by the Hollywood Women’s Press Club, in the year 1950.
Alan Ladd won the prestigious ‘Golden Globe’ awards twice during the period 1954-55. Both the awards were in the ‘World Film Favorite – Male’ category.
Ladd earned another feather on his cap through ‘Star on the Walk of Fame’, an honour which he received in 1960.
Personal Life & Legacy
Alan Ladd got married to Majorie Jane Harrold in 1936, who was his sweetheart since high school. However, the couple divorced just five years later. They had a son named Alan Ladd Jr, who is now a film producer and producer of the ‘Alan Ladd Company’.
In 1942, he married his agent Sue Carol, who helped Ladd get his first break. The couple had two children named Alana and David Alan. Both Alana and David acted with their father on a few projects.
On January 29, 1964, Ladd succumbed to a condition called ‘Cerebral Edema’, which is caused due to excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs.