Carole Landis was an American actress and singer remembered primarily for her tragically short life and her work in films during the 1930s and 1940s. Born on January 1, 1919, as Frances Lillian Mary Ridste in Fairchild, Wisconsin, she took the stage name Carole Landis after her favorite actress, Carole Lombard.
Early Life and Career: Landis dropped out of high school at age 15 and worked as a singer and dancer before making her way to Hollywood. She made her film debut in a tiny part in 1937's "A Star Is Born" and spent the next few years in bit parts. Her break came with the film "One Million B.C." in 1940, where she played the female lead opposite Victor Mature. The film was a hit, and her striking appearance in a revealing costume garnered significant attention.
Rise to Fame: Following the success of "One Million B.C.," Landis signed a contract with 20th Century Fox. She appeared in a series of films throughout the 1940s, including "Turnabout" (1940), "I Wake Up Screaming" (1941), and "Moon Over Miami" (1941). Although never quite reaching the top echelon of Hollywood stars, she was a popular pin-up and had a significant fan following during World War II.
World War II: During the war, Landis was actively involved in the Hollywood Canteen, an organization that offered food, dancing, and entertainment to servicemen, usually free of charge. She also participated in USO tours, visiting troops and boosting morale, which earned her significant goodwill among both soldiers and the general public.
Personal Life: Landis' personal life was tumultuous and marked by several marriages. She married four times, with each marriage ending in divorce. Landis was also known for her romantic liaisons, including a well-publicized affair with married actor Rex Harrison.
Death and Legacy: Tragically, Landis' life ended suddenly when she died of an apparent suicide via an overdose of Seconal, a barbiturate, on July 5, 1948, at the age of 29. Her death was believed to be the result of a deep depression, relating in part to her failed romance with Harrison, who discovered her body.
After her death, Landis was remembered for her beauty, her efforts during the war, and her roles in comedies and dramas alike. Although never elevated to the status of a perennial Hollywood icon, she has retained a cult following and remains a figure of interest for film historians and classic movie fans.
Landis left behind a relatively small but impactful body of work and is still remembered for her dedication to the troops during World War II. Her story, emblematic of the pressures and pitfalls of Hollywood stardom during the studio era, continues to resonate with those interested in the golden age of cinema.
For more detailed information about her life and career, you might want to consult biographies or watch documentaries dedicated to the stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, where her story is often featured.