Alan Walbridge Ladd (September 3, 1913 – January 29, 1964) was an American film actor.
Ladd was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was the only child of Ina Raleigh Ladd and Alan Ladd, Sr. He was of English ancestry. His father died when he was four, and his mother relocated to Oklahoma City where she married Jim Beavers, a housepainter. The family then moved again to North Hollywood, California where Ladd became a high-school swimming and diving champion and participated in high school dramatics at North Hollywood High School, graduating on February 1, 1934. He opened his own hamburger and malt shop, which he called Tiny's Patio. He worked briefly as a studio carpenter (as did his stepfather) and for a short time was part of the Universal Pictures studio school for actors. But Universal decided he was too blond and too short and dropped him. Intent on acting, he found work in radio.
Ladd began by appearing in dozens of films in small roles, including Citizen Kane in which he played one of the "faceless" reporters who are always shown in silhouette. He first gained some recognition with a featured role in the wartime thriller Joan of Paris, 1942. For his next role, his manager, Sue Carol, found a vehicle which made Ladd's career, Graham Greene's This Gun for Hire in which he played "Raven," a hitman with a conscience. "Once Ladd had acquired an unsmiling hardness, he was transformed from an extra to a phenomenon. Ladd's calm slender ferocity make it clear that he was the first American actor to show the killer as a cold angel." - David Thomson (A Biographical Dictionary of Film, 1975)  Both the film and Ladd's performance played an important role in the development of the "gangster" genre: "That the old fashioned motion picture gangster with his ugly face, gaudy cars, and flashy clothes was replaced by a smoother, better looking, and better dressed bad man was largely the work of Mr. Ladd." - New York Times obituary (January 30, 1964). Ladd was teamed with actress Veronica Lake in this film, and despite the fact that it was Robert Preston who played the romantic lead, the Ladd-Lake pairing captured the public's imagination, and would continue in another three films. (They appeared in a total of seven films together, but three were only guest shots in all-star musical revues.)
Ladd went on to star in many Paramount Pictures' films, with a brief timeout for military service in the United States Army Air Force's First Motion Picture Unit. He appeared in Dashiell Hammett's story The Glass Key, his second pairing with Lake, and Lucky Jordan, with Helen Walker. His cool, unsmiling persona proved popular with wartime audiences, and he was quickly established as one of the top box office stars of the decade.
In 1946, he starred in a trio of silver screen classics: the big screen adaptation of Richard Henry Dana's maritime classic, Two Years Before the Mast (for which he also received critical acclaim), the Raymond Chandler original mystery The Blue Dahlia (his third pairing with Lake), and the World War II espionage thriller, O.S.S.
He formed his own production companies for film and radio and then starred in his own syndicated series Box 13, which ran from 1948-49. Ladd and Robert Preston starred in the 1948 western film, Whispering Smith, which in 1961 would become a short-lived NBC television series, starring Audie Murphy.
In 1949's version of The Great Gatsby, Ladd had the featured role of Jay Gatsby.
Ladd played the title role in the 1953 western Shane. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It was listed at No. 45 on the American Film Institute's 2007 ranking of "100 Years ... 100 Movies."
Ladd made the Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll three times: in 1947, 1953 and 1954.
When former agent Albert R. Broccoli formed Warwick Films with his partner Irving Allen, they heard Ladd was unhappy with Paramount and was leaving the studio. With his wife and agent Sue Carol, they negotiated for Ladd to appear in the first three of their films made in England and released through Columbia Pictures The Red Beret/Paratrooper (1953), Hell Below Zero (based on Hammond Innes's book The White South) (1954) and The Black Knight with each co-written by Ladd's regular screenwriter Richard Maibaum. (1954) In 1954 Ladd formed a new production company, Jaguar Productions, originally releasing his films through Warner Bros. and then with All the Young Men through Columbia.
In November 1962, he was found lying unconscious in a pool of blood with a bullet wound near his heart, an unsuccessful suicide attempt. In 1963 Ladd filmed a supporting role in The Carpetbaggers. He would not live to see its release. On January 29, 1964 he was found dead in Palm Springs, California, of an acute overdose of "alcohol and three other drugs," at the age of 50; his death was ruled accidental. He was entombed in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. Not until June 28, 1964 did Carpetbaggers producer Joseph E. Levine hold an elaborate premiere screening in New York City with an afterparty staged by his wife at The Four Seasons Restaurant.
Alan Ladd has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1601 Vine Street. His handprint appears in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater, in Hollywood.
He had married a high-school acquaintance, Midge Harrold. Their only child, a son named Alan Ladd, Jr., was born in 1937. Ladd's stepfather died suddenly. Then his mother, who suffered from depression, committed suicide by poison.
In 1942, Ladd married his agent/manager, former movie actress Sue Carol.
Ladd owned properties in Beverly Hills and, in Palm Springs, Alan Ladd Hardware. His son by his first wife Midge Harrold, Alan Ladd, Jr., is a motion picture executive and producer and founder of The Ladd Company. His daughter actress Alana, who co-starred with her father in Guns of the Timberland and Duel of Champions, is married to the veteran talk radio broadcaster Michael Jackson. Another son, actor David Ladd, who co-starred with Ladd as a child in The Proud Rebel, married Charlie's Angels star Cheryl Ladd, 1973-1980. Actress Jordan Ladd is his granddaughter.
Reports of his height vary from 5'5" to 5'9" (from his military records) (1.65 to 1.75 m), with 5'6" (1.68 m) being the most generally accepted today.
1.^ Obituary Variety, February 5, 1964, page 63.
2.^ Linet, Beverly. Ladd: The Life, the Legend, the Legacy of Alan Ladd. New York: Arbor House, 1979. ISBN 0-87795-203-5
3.^ Alan Ladd 8/12
4.^ Alan Ladd
5.^ City of nets: a portrait of Hollywood in the 1940's By Otto Friedrich
6.^ Alan Ladd - Biography - MSN Movies
7.^ Broccoli, Albert R. and Zec, Donald When the Snow Melts: The Autobiography of Cubby Broccoli Trans-Atlantic Publications 1999
8.^ Alan Ladd Death Ruled Accidental UPI. The Bulletin of Bend and Central Oregon Feb 5, 1964.
9.^ Kilgallen, Dorothy (June 30, 1964). "Voice of Broadway". New York Journal American. p. 25. 10.^ Alan Ladd, Awards 11.^ MSN - Movies: Jordan Ladd 12.^ Shipman, David. The Great Movie Stars: The Golden Years. New York: Hill and Wang, 1979. ISBN 0-8090-5170-2