Carole Landis was one of Hollywood's most beautiful and beloved stars. During World War 2 she became a popular actress and devoted herself to entertaining the troops. Tragically she never found happiness and committed suicide at age twenty-nine.
In August of 1947 Carole traveled to London, England to make two
movies for Eagle-Lion Studios - Brass Monkey and Noose. At the time she was unhappily married to
Horace Schmidlapp and having an affair with actor Rex Harrison. Horace
decided to stay in New York City but Rex followed Carole to London.
Their affair continued and got more serious even though Rex's wife, Lilli
Palmer, came with him. Carole filmed Brass Monkey at Twickenhan Studios and stayed at the Savoy Hotel with her poodle Gina. She lived in England for nearly six months and fell in love with the
A letter from December 1947
Carole said "I loved England and working there was really stimulating." When she wasn't working Carole went to many parties, visited the zoo, and spent time with her close
friend Lt. Troy who had been injured during the war. She was so busy that during her first two months there she lost eleven pounds. On November 25 Carole participated in a charity performance of The Bishop's Wife for King George and Queen Elizabeth. After the show she attended a star-studded party with Bob Hope, Loretta Young, Rex Harrison, and Lilli Palmer.
In January of 1948 Carole was featured on the cover of the British magazine Film Illustrated Monthly. Horace came to visit her but they only spent a few days together. She finished filming Noose in February and
returned to California. Lana Turner had been renting her Pacific Palisades home while she was away. Carole filed for divorce and the press began to gossip about her close relationship with Rex. She told her friends that she was returning to England in August to make The Amazing Mr. X. Sadly Carole would take her own life just a few weeks before she was supposed to leave.
In 1948 Carole starred in the drama Brass Monkey (also known as The Lucky Mascot). She plays Kay Sheldon, a singer who gets mixed up with a robbery. The cast includes Carroll Levis, Herbert Lom, and Terry Thomas. Carole sings "I Know Myself Too Well" in the movie. She filmed Brass Monkey in England. You can watch some scenes here ...
Carole had a beautiful voice and she loved to sing. She had started her career as a nightclub singer in San Francisco. Carole sang duets on the radio with stars like Groucho Marx and Bob Hope. She also recorded several songs for the troops during World War 2. Unfortunately Carole never recorded a studio album. You can listen to some of her songs here ...
It Had To Be You (from a 1945 radio performance)
Personality (from a 1946 radio performance)
Sunday Monday, and Always with Martha Raye and Mitzi Mayfair
early days were filled with heartache and dreams of stardom. She was born on January 1, 1919 in Fairchild, Wisconsin. Her birth name was Frances Lillian Ridste - she had been named after her maternal grandmother Francis Sentek. Carolewas the youngest of five children. Sadly her brother Jerome had died in 1917 after being burned by boiling water.Her father Alfred Ridste was a railroad worker and her mother Clara Sentek Ridste was a housewife. In the Spring of 1919 the family moved to Denton, Montana. Clara began having a relationship with a farmer named Charles Fenner. She filed for divorce and Alfred sued Charles for alienation of affection.
Left to Right: Carole's brother Lewis, her brother Lawrence, Carole, her mother Clara, her sister Dorothy
Clara married Charles Fenner in December of 1919 but the marriage only lasted eighteen months, Then she took the children to San Diego,
California where she reunited with Alfred. In 1923 the entire family relocated to San Bernardino and moved into a tiny home at 175 Bryant Street. Alfred walked out on Clara leaving her to raise the children alone. They were very poor and Carole's older sister Dorothy often watched her while their mother worked.
According to family sources Carole was sexually molested by a relative
during her childhood. Tragically in 1925 Carole's ten year old brother Lewis died after he was accidentally shot with gun.
Left to Right: Carole's brother Lewis, her sister Dorothy. her father Alfred, Carole, her brother Lawrence
Carole was such a beautiful child that everyone called her "Baby Doll". From a young age she dreamed about becoming a movie star. She loved watching The Gish sisters and covered her walls with photos of Kay Francis and Mary Astor. When Carole seven she won her first talent contest by singing "Yes Sir That's My Baby" and dancing the Charleston. She started taking dance lessons and she performed with her sister in local clubs. By the time Carole was twelve she was winning beauty contests. She attended Sturges junior high school where she
was boy crazy and often skipped her classes. Carole said "I always seemed so much older than the other kids my age - they seemedlike tots."
Left to right: Carole's sister-in-law Helen Ridste, her sister Dorothy, her mother Clara, and Carole
Carole enjoyed playing
sports especially baseball and volleyball. She even tried to start an all girl football team! Carole was raised a Catholic and attended church every
Sunday. Her philosophy was "Pass the good deed along". In the Fall of 1933 she met twenty year old Irving Kay Wheeler, a civilian conservation corps worker. They eloped on January 14, 1934 in Yuma, Arizona. Because Carole was only fifteen
her mother had the marriage annulled and Irving was arrested. In August of 1934 the couple got Alfred Ridste's consent and were married again.
Carole, her first husband Irving Wheeler, and her sister Dorothy in 1933
Carole and Irving moved into a one room apartment with no refrigerator. After three weeks of marriage she walked out on her husband. She dropped out of school and got a job working at a restaurant where she earned $2 a day plus tips. Carole started saving money so she could move away and become an actress. Years later her father Alfred said "When she was five years old we knew
she had unusual talents. Without any professional training whatever she
learned to sing an dance beautifully - and we were confident she would
achieve her goal to become an actress."