When Carole was just sixteen years old she dropped out of school and decided to become a singer. She said "Although I avoided dramatics - and everything else - in school. I wanted to be a success on the stage, the screen, or the radio. So I saved my money and when I had bus fare and $16.82 over, I told my mother, Clara, I was going to leave home. She was heartbroken, but she believed in me." Carole left San Bernardino and moved to San Francisco in the Spring of 1935. She went from one nightclub to another looking for a job. Carole was hired to sing and dance at the popular Royal Hawaiian nightclub on Bush Street.
Carole at age 16
She later explained "The manager of the Royal Hawaiian club in San Francisco was interviewing girls to sing and dance in the floor show and when he asked me if I could sing and dance I blithely said 'Of course, I'm great!' when actually I was a greenhorn at both. Luckily the chorus was learning a new hula routine and in the resultant confusion no one noticed I didn't know my right foot from my left.". Carole wore a skimpy hula outfit and performed three shows a night. Many of Carole's early biographies claim she sang with Carl Ravazza's band but this is incorrect. Although she auditioned to sing with Carl Ravazza he didn't hire her. Instead he helped her get a singing job at the Rio Del Mar nightclub.
Carole loved living in San Francisco. She spent her evenings performing and went to the beach every afternoon. It was during this time that she began using "Carole Landis" as her professional name. She said "One day I just sat down and wrote 200 names and I decided that Carole Landis was the best of them." There have been rumors that Carole worked as a call girl when she was in San Francisco. These stories are NOT TRUE. Carole always had a steady job when she lived there. She even kept her old wedding ring on so men would not bother her. In the Fall of 1936 Carole quit her singing job and went to Hollywood to be an actress.
Carole, Lyle Talbot, and Evelyn O'Brien
She was signed by Ken Dolan, Frances Langford's manager. One of her first jobs was being an extra in the MGM film The Emperor's Candlesticks. Carole had a group of close friends that included actor Lyle Talbot and make-up artist Evelyn O'Brien. She and her friends went on a ski trip together and celebrated her 18th birthday in Ocean Park. Carole moved into a modest apartment at 1933 North Bronson Avenue. She invited her mother Clara (now divorced from her third husband) to move in with her. In 1937 Carole had bit parts in several movies including A Day At The Races and The King And The Chorus Girl.
Carole with her friends
Carole on the MGM lot in 1937