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Philip French's screen legends

No 84 Alan Ladd 1913-64

He had a hard early life and a long apprenticeship. Born in Hot Springs, Arkansas, he was four when his accountant father died and, still a child, he moved to North Hollywood, California with his mother (who would become an alcoholic and commit suicide) and stepfather, a painter and decorator.

He was a high-school athletic star, principally as a swimmer, and developed the fine physique he was often to expose on screen, including two scenes of public flogging. Living so close to the movie business, he had certain acting aspirations but was constantly told he was too short (5ft 6in) and unfashionably fair-haired for stardom.

But after leaving school in the Depression, briefly running his own burger joint (disarmingly called Tiny's Patio) and working as a studio carpenter, he spent nearly a decade freelancing in radio and taking minor movie parts. Many of the latter were without dialogue,

See full article on The Guardian - Film News