Laura La Plante

Laura La Plante (born Laura LaPlant; November 1, 1904 – October 14, 1996) was an American film actress, whose most notable performances were in the silent era.

Laura La Plante
La Plante ca. 1935
Born
Laura LaPlant

(1904-11-01)November 1, 1904
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
DiedOctober 14, 1996(1996-10-14) (aged 91)
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
OccupationActress
Years active1921–1934
Spouse(s)William A. Seiter (m.1926–1934; divorced)
Irving Asher (m.1934–1985; his death); 2 children

Silent film career

La Plante made her acting debut at age 15, and in 1923 she was named as one of that year's WAMPAS Baby Stars.[1] During the 1920s she appeared in more than sixty films. Among her early film appearances were Big Town Round-Up (1921), with cowboy star Tom Mix, the serials Perils of the Yukon (1922), Around the World in Eighteen Days (1923),[2] and several Western movies with Hoot Gibson.

The majority of the films starring LaPlante (i.e. from 1921 to 1930) were made for Universal Pictures. During this period she was the studio's most popular star, "an accomplishment duplicated only by Deanna Durbin years later",[3] and almost always enjoyed top billing.

One of LaPlante's earliest surviving films is the 1925 film Smouldering Fires, directed by Clarence Brown and costarring Pauline Frederick. Her best remembered film is arguably the silent classic The Cat and the Canary (1927), although she also achieved acclaim for Skinner's Dress Suit (1926),[4] with Reginald Denny, the part-talkie The Love Trap (1929), directed by William Wyler, and the 1929 part-talkie film version of Show Boat (1929), adapted from the novel of the same name by Edna Ferber.[5]

Although this last film was an adaptation of the novel, and not of the famous musical play also adapted from the 1926 novel, some songs from the play were tossed into the film as box-office insurance. She did not actually sing in the movie; her singing was dubbed by Eva Olivetti, one of the first instances in which this was done in a motion picture. A scene of La Plante in Show Boat was broadcast on early British television.[6]

Transition to sound films

The advent of sound films effectively shortened her career. In her mid-20s, La Plante was a natural and appealing presence in early talkies, but the huge wave of new stars in those years overshadowed her. She made her last appearances for Universal in the Technicolor musical King of Jazz (1930). She appeared in God's Gift to Women (Warner Bros., (1931), directed by Michael Curtiz and co-starring Frank Fay and Joan Blondell, and Arizona (Columbia, 1931), co-starring alongside a young John Wayne.[7]

Later career

La Plante subsequently went to Britain to work at Warner Brother's Teddington Studios. The company had faced criticism for the low quality of its "quota quickies", and her arrival coincided with an attempt to make more expensive productions. She starred in Man of the Moment (1935), with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. La Plante was briefly considered to replace Myrna Loy in the Thin Man series when Loy thought about leaving, but Loy stayed as Nora Charles and La Plante's career never rebounded. She retired from the screen in 1935, making only two later films, 1957's Spring Reunion being her last. Her younger sister, actress Violet, never achieved Laura's level of fame; both sisters were WAMPAS Baby Stars.

On June 3, 1954 (Season 4 Episode 38), La Plante made a guest appearance (as herself, Mrs. Laura Asher) on Groucho Marx's quiz show You Bet Your Life.[8] In this episode, La Plante discussed numerous topics, including her husband Irving Asher, who had just lost 25 pounds and completed the film Elephant Walk with Elizabeth Taylor. Mrs. Asher asked that her winnings, if any, go to the Motion Picture Relief Fund. They got three out of four questions correct to win $215.[9] In the mid-1980s, a wheelchair-bound La Plante was brought on stage to wave to the crowd at the "Night of a Hundred Stars" event.

Death

Laura La Plante died at the age of 91 in Woodland Hills, California. Her death was due to Alzheimer's disease.[10] Despite contrary belief about her rumored interment at El Camino Memorial Park in San Diego, California, La Plante was actually cremated by Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, California with her ashes scattered at sea.[11]

Legacy

Partial filmography

Year Title Role Note
1920813GenevieveLost film
1922Perils of the YukonOlgaLost film
The Wall FlowerPrue NickersonLost film
1923Around the World in Eighteen DaysMadge HarlowLost film
Dead GameAlice Mason
Shootin' for LoveMary Randolph
Out of LuckMae Day
The Ramblin' KidCarolyn JuneLost film
The Thrill ChaserCameo AppearanceLost film
1924Sporting YouthBetty Rockford
ExcitementNila LyonsLost film
The Dangerous BlondeDiane FaradayLost film
Young IdeasOctavia Lowden
Ride for Your LifeBetsy BurkeLost film
The Fatal PlungeUndertemined Role
The Fast WorkerConnie Fowler
ButterflyDora Collier
1925Smouldering FiresDorothy Vale
The TeaserAnn BartonLost film
Dangerous InnocenceAnn ChurchLost film
1926The Beautiful CheatMary Callahan / Maritza Callahansky
Skinner's Dress SuitMrs. Honey Skinner
The Midnight SunOlga 'The Midnight Sun' Morova
Her Big NightFrances Norcross/Daphne Dix
Butterflies in the RainMrs. Glenson
Poker FacesBetty Whitmore
1927The Love ThrillJoyce BragdonLost film
Beware of WidowsJoyce Bragdon
Silk StockingsTina Carteret
The Cat and the CanaryAnnabelle West
1928Thanks for the Buggy RideJenny
Finders KeepersBarbara Hastings
Home, JamesLaura Elliot
1929The Last WarningDoris Terry
High Society
Show BoatMagnolia Hawks
The Love TrapEvelyn Todd
Hold Your ManMary
1930King of JazzEditor
Captain of the GuardMarie Marnay
1931Stout Hearts and Willing HandsThe Heroine
ArizonaEvelyn Palmer Bonham
God's Gift to WomenDiane Churchill
Lonely WivesDiane O'Dare
Too Many Women
Meet the WifeGertrude Lennox
The Sea GhostEvelyn Inchcape
1933Her Imaginary LoverCelia
1934The Girl in PossessionEve Chandler
The Church MouseBetty 'Miss Church Mouse' Miller
1935Widow's MightNancy Tweesdale
Man of the MomentMary Briany
1947Little Mister JimMrs. Glenson
1957Spring ReunionMay Brewster

See also

References

  1. Brownlow, Kevin (October 16, 1996). "Obituary: Laura La Plante". Independent. Archived from the original on October 4, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  2. silenthollywood.com
  3. Drew, William. Speaking of Silents. Vestal, NJ. Vestal Press, 1989, p. 89. ISBN 0-911572-81-3
  4. [Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses p. 210]
  5. silenthollywood.com
  6. Kreuger, Miles. Show Boat – The Story of a Classic American Musical. New York, NY. Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 97.
  7. John Wayne: American ISBN 0-8032-8970-7 p. 702
  8. Morphosyntactic Categories and the Expression of Possession ISBN 978-9-027-27300-0 p. 192
  9. from the DVD Groucho Marx --You Bet Your Life put out by "TV Classics"
  10. "Hollywood Star Walk: Laura La Plante". Los Angeles Times. October 16, 1996. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  11. Wilson, Scott (September 16, 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland via Google Books.
  12. Laura La Plante Dr – Google Maps (Map) (2014 ed.). Google Maps. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
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