A Tribute to Alan Ladd
A skinny, undernourished kid (born September 3, 1913) whose nickname was “Tiny,” Alan Ladd was probably one of the most unlikely movie stars in Hollywood. In fact, he started his career as a grip, and later was steered toward radio because of his size. But he hung around, and had more than 40 uncredited or bit roles in movies from 1932 until 1942, when his fourth-billed role as a hit man in the noir This Gun For Hire, starring Veronica Lake, brought him stardom. Many critics consider his performance to be an archetype for a sort of modern bad guy, one who was pretty, not ugly, quiet, not gaudy.
He and Lake went on to appear in three more films together: The Blue Dahlia (1946), The Glass Key (1942) and Saigon (1948), plus appearing as themselves in Star Spangled Rhythm (1942), Duffy’s Tavern (1945) and Variety Girl (1947) — just to indicate how popular and well-known they became.
But it was his iconic role as the gunfighter in Shane (1953) that forever secured his reputation as an actor, and again raised the bar for the portrayal of a bad guy as hero. He was also Photoplay‘s Most Popular Star that year, and appeared on many movie magazine covers during the 40s and 50s. His fans didn’t care how tall he was, because on the screen he was a giant.
Unfortunately, his own opinion of himself was not as high as his fans’. He was once asked what he would change about himself, and answered, “Everything.” His career did not prosper after the late 50s, and his life ended tragically, with a drug and alcohol overdose in 1964, at the age of 50. His son David is a producer and former actor, and son Alan Ladd, Jr. a producer who won an Oscar for Braveheart. Despite what he may have believed, his reputation as an actor and a father is secure, and we salute him on what would have been his 93rd birthday in 2006.
Alan Ladd Tributes/Pages
- All Movie Guide
- Brian’s Drive-In Theater
- Internet Movie Database
- Meredy’s Alan Ladd Trivia Mania
- Wildest Westerns
Selected Reviews of Alan Ladd’s Best Films
- And Now Tomorrow (1944) – Review by Bosley Crowther
- Beyond Glory (1948) – Review by T.F.B. of The New York Times
- The Blue Dahlia (1946) – Review by Danny Reid
- Shane (1953) – Review by Roger Ebert
- This Gun for Hire (1942) – Review by Chris Dashiell
Where To Find Or See Alan Ladd Films
Books by or about Alan Ladd
- Alan Ladd 173 Success Facts: Everything You Need to Know about Alan Ladd – by Christina Singleton