Alan Walbridge Ladd Sr. (September 3, 1913 January 29, 1964) was an American actor during The Golden Age of Hollywood. He commonly appeared in Film Noir, but actually appeared in a variety of different film genres; his filmography has been calculated to over 90 appearances.
Ladd's film career was a rocky start. He wasn't seen as "leading man" material by Hollywood because they didn't believe he was conventionally attractive enough, but he was also held back because of his height note — a shortcoming that had made him a Butt-Monkey when he was a child. However, he began his acting career in the 1930s with uncredited roles, as well as many appearances on the radio.
Through Retroactive Recognition in a small part in Citizen Kane and an emotional death scene in Joan Of Paris, the studios noticed the potential of Ladd and offered him contracts and bigger roles. He starred in This Gun for Hire in 1942, which was said to have been in the making for almost ten years, and soon followed with Lucky Jordan and other parts, mostly being gangsters, often being compared to James Cagney. He halted acting for a while to serve in the army but was sent home on sick leave; he demanded a pay rise from Paramount in 1948, getting suspended in response. When he returned, he appeared in the wartime movie O.S.S. and the image-shifting lead role in The Great Gatsby 1949, which met a reluctant studio's expectations when it was a critical failure.
Ladd had a varied acting career. He could be a gangster in one film and a detective in another. Commonly, he was considered for roles (and even announced as the final pick), but was then rejected for the talents of someone else. He turned to westerns in the 1950s, most notably Shane with Jean Arthur, and then jumped between many studios in Hollywood and around the world. He created the production company Jaguar Productions in 1954 which soon defunct in the early 1960s and Ladd's career began to fail, reportedly retiring from acting in 1960. His personal life appeared to be dipping too: he was found unconscious with a bullet wound in his chest in 1962 which didn't actually kill him, leading to assumptions that it was a failed suicide attempt, but he later died in 1964 from a variety of alcohol and drug-related reactions. He was meant to make a career comeback with The Carpetbaggers, but was a success when it was released posthumously.
He appeared in four films with Veronica Lake because they had good chemistry together, but also because Lake, who was reportedly only 4'11'', matched well with the vertically challenged Ladd.
Alan Ladd on TV Tropes:
- Once in a Lifetime (1932) as Projectionist
- Murder at the Vanities (1934)(extra)
- The Green Hornet (1940) as Gilpin, Student Pilot (chap. 3)
- The Howards of Virginia (1940) as Backwoodsman
- Citizen Kane (1941) as Reporter smoking pipe at end (uncredited)
- The Reluctant Dragon (1941) as Al, Baby Weems storyboard artist
- This Gun for Hire (1942) as Philip Raven
- The Glass Key (1942) as Ed Beaumont
- The Blue Dahlia (1946) as Johnny Morrison, Lt.Cmdr., ret.
- My Favorite Brunette (1947) as Sam McCloud
- Shane (1953) as Shane
- The Badlanders (1957) as Peter Van Hoek ("The Dutchman")
- One Foot in Hell (1960) as Mitch Barrett