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Biography of Alan Ladd
Not since the arrival of Marlene Dietrich a decade ago has a Para- mount player received a more en- thusiastic reception in an introduc- tory lead than that afforded Alan Ladd upon the showing of his first Paramount film, "This Gun for-Hire." He is the only member of the bad boy fraternity who can claim outstanding good looks.
Ladd's story is that of a "home town" Hollywood boy who became screen-struck by accident and there-
after battled along, accumulating a string of boosters through his work, but failing to get a role in which he
could show his stuff until Paramount needed a handsome, young killer to appear opposite Veronica Lake in
"This Gun for Hire," found him ideal in a test and gave him, not only the role, but a long term contract even before the picture was released.
Ladd was born in Hot Springs, Ark., one September 8, the son of a public
accountant of the same name. When he was seven, his parents moved to Alhambra, Calif., and later to North Hollywood which was "away out in the country" in the San Fernando Valley, which in recent years has be- come the home of so many screen stars. The boy went to North Holly- wood High School, where he became a track star, he was even a greater swimming star and still holds the 50 yard free-stvle interscholastic record. Besides swimming for his high school,
he competed in amateur meets for the Hollywood Athletic Club, becoming West Coast diving champion. Ladd went to work on. the San Fernando Valley Sun-Record and, at the end of a year, was the advertising manager. He quit his newspaper job and applied
for studio work. Wanting to be close enough to ob- serve how established stars worked and how directors functioned, he sought work on actual productions. Unskilled, he became a labourer. His boss put Ladd to work rigging up scaffoldings in the rafters for lights. All his duties were in advance of a company's work--preparations. For two vears he worked on sound stages all right but never while a company was shooting on that stage. Those two years of steady work did, how- ever, net him ample savings to enroll at the Ben Bard school, where he studied for a vear. Coming out of the school, the youth practically starved to death looking for a chance to act.
About the time when he had hit the bottom and was about to give up his acting intentions, he got a chance on a radio programme at KFWB, local Los Angeles station. The result was that he worked there two years as the only stock actor under salary to the station. He appeared on from 15 to 20 shows a week, playing all sorts of roles. It was valuable experience, permitting him to develop a fine speaking voice.
On one programme, after two years of constant work, Ladd played a man of 60 and the latter's son as a dual
role. Sue Carol, former screen star
who had turned actor's agent, heard him. was impressed and sent for the actor. She was astounded when a handsome young man turned up. She signed him immediately. The rest of the story is how Miss Carol plugged for Ladd for two solid vears, certain that he was starring material, trying to talk producers and directors into giving him a chance. He continued to play bits and do radio work. And Miss Carol went on plugging and Ladd went on acting in whatever she got for him. Then suddenly, he won a good role, in "Joan of Paris" at RKO. The same week, Meiklejohn', at Paramount, called him for a test for the role in "This Gun for Hire." He was to be the first of many tested. Director Frank Tuttle spent two days on the test-and when executives saw it, they called off any further tests. Alan Ladd was the youth for the role.
A significant chapter was appended to the history of Ladd's relationship with his discoverer and agent, Miss Carol, soon after the completion of "This Gun for Hire." They flew to Yuma - that romantic Gretna Green of the Hollywood set-and were mar- ried.
His debut at the studio having lived up to all expectations, Ladd is slated for some of the best roles on the Paramount schedule. He will play in two Dashiell Hammett mystery stories -"The Glass Key," also opposite Miss Lake, and "Red Harvest"-and then in the projected screen version of Barre Lvndon's London play, "The Man in Half Moon Street."