Alan Ladd

Active - 1932 - 1988  |   Born - Sep 3, 1913 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, United States  |   Died - Jan 29, 1964   |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Comedy, Western, Crime

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Alan Ladd was a short (5' 5"), unexpressive lead actor with icy good looks and a resonant voice. He worked a variety of odd jobs -- in addition to radio and in local theater -- before entering films in his late teens as a bit player and grip. In the mid-'30s, he began appearing regularly in minor screen roles. Hollywood agent Sue Carol discovered him and began trumpeting him as star material, and the actor eventually landed a major role in This Gun for Hire (1942) opposite Veronica Lake. He quickly became a major star, and was teamed with Lake in other films -- all hits. Ladd and Carol married in 1942, and she remained his agent for the rest of his life. On the Top Ten box-office attractions list in 1947, 1953, and 1954, he continued to star in films throughout the '50s, but -- with the exception of Shane (1953) -- few of his films were noteworthy; most were entertaining adventures featuring Ladd bare-chested and in fistfights, but, by the late '50s, their appeal was waning. Ladd was the father of actors Alan Ladd Jr. and David Ladd, and former child actress Alana Ladd. He died in 1964.

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Factsheet

  • While playing with matches as a child, he burned down the apartment where he and his mother lived.
  • By the time he was 8, he had jobs picking fruit, delivering newspapers and sweeping floors; poverty also led to his suffering from malnutrition-related stomach ailments.
  • Opened a hamburger shop after graduating high school called Tiny's Patio; "Tiny" had been a nickname in school due to his height. 
  • His introduction to the entertainment industry included working as a grip for Warner Brothers; as he gravitated to small film roles, one included his portrayal of a faceless reporter in Orson Welles' 1941 classic Citizen Kane
  • After making a name for himself as a screen bad guy, he took on what proved to be his best-remembered acting part, as an honest (and troubled) character in the title role in the 1953 classic Shane.
  • Was among the top money-making stars in 1947, 1953 and 1954.
  • Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and his handprints and footprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.