Laura La Plante

Laura La Plante (born Laura Laplante; November 1, 1904 – October 14, 1996) was an American film actress, whose more notable performances were in the silent era.

Laura La Plante
La Plante Freulich.jpg
La Plante ca. 1925
Laura Laplante

(1904-11-01)November 1, 1904
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
DiedOctober 14, 1996(1996-10-14) (aged 91)
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
Burial placecremated, ashes scattered at sea
Years active1921–1934
(m. 1926; div. 1934)

(m. 1934; died 1985)
RelativesViolet La Plante (sister)

Early lifeEdit

La Plante was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 1, 1904, the daughter of William A. Laplante and Elizabeth E. Turk.[1] Her father taught dancing. After her parents were divorced, her mother took Laura and her sister Violet to live in San Diego, California. In her teens, Laura stayed with a cousin, Mary MacMahon, in Hollywood during a summer vacation and replied to a newspaper ad asking for children for moving pictures, and she was hired.[2]

Silent film careerEdit

La Plante made her acting debut at age 15, and in 1923 she was named as one of that year's WAMPAS Baby Stars.[3] During the 1920s, she appeared in more than 60 films. Her early films include Big Town Round-Up (1921), with cowboy star Tom Mix, the serials Perils of the Yukon (1922), Around the World in Eighteen Days (1923),[4] and several movies with Hoot Gibson.

La Plante in 1920. She is seen here alongside Bobby Vernon in an image published in the Exhibitors Herald.

The majority of the films starring La Plante (from 1921 to 1930) were made for Universal Pictures. During this period, she was the studio's most popular star, "an accomplishment duplicated only by Deanna Durbin years later",[5] and almost always enjoyed top billing.

One of La Plante's early surviving films is the 1925 film Smouldering Fires, directed by Clarence Brown and costarring Pauline Frederick. Her best remembered film is arguably the silent classic The Cat and the Canary (1927), although she also achieved acclaim for Skinner's Dress Suit (1926),[6] with Reginald Denny, the part-sound The Love Trap (1929), directed by William Wyler, and the 1929 part-sound Show Boat (1929), adapted from the novel of the same name by Edna Ferber.[7]

Although this last film was an adaptation of the novel, and not of the famous musical play also adapted from the 1926 novel, some songs from the play were included in the film as box-office insurance. She did not actually sing in the movie; her singing was dubbed by Eva Olivetti, one of the early instances in which this was done in a motion picture. A scene of La Plante in Show Boat was broadcast in the early days of British television.[8]

Transition to sound filmsEdit

The advent of sound films effectively shortened her career. In her mid-20s, La Plante was a natural and appealing presence in early sound films, but the huge wave of new stars in these years overshadowed her. She made her last appearances for Universal in the Technicolor musical King of Jazz (1930). She appeared in God's Gift to Women (Warner Bros., 1931), directed by Michael Curtiz and co-starring Frank Fay and Joan Blondell, and Arizona (Columbia, 1931), co-starring alongside a young John Wayne.[9]

Later careerEdit

La Plante subsequently went to Britain to work at Warner Brother's Teddington Studios. The company had faced criticism for the low quality of its "quota quickies", and her arrival coincided with an attempt to make more expensive productions. She starred in Man of the Moment (1935), with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. She appeared in the West End playing the lead in Ian Hay's Admirals All. La Plante briefly was considered to replace Myrna Loy in the Thin Man series when Loy thought about leaving, but Loy stayed as Nora Charles, and La Plante's career never rebounded. She retired from the screen in 1935, making only two later films, and 1957's Spring Reunion was her last. Her younger sister, actress Violet, never achieved Laura's level of fame; both sisters were WAMPAS Baby Stars.

On June 3, 1954 (Season 4 Episode 38), La Plante made a guest appearance (as herself, Mrs. Laura Asher) on Groucho Marx's quiz show You Bet Your Life.[10] In this episode, La Plante discussed numerous topics, including her husband Irving Asher, who had just lost 25 pounds and completed the film Elephant Walk with Elizabeth Taylor. Mrs. Asher asked that her winnings, if any, go to the Motion Picture Relief Fund. They got three out of four questions correct to win $215.[11] In the mid-1980s, La Plante was brought on stage in a wheelchair to wave to the crowd at the "Night of a Hundred Stars" event.


La Plante died on October 14, 1996, at the age of 91 in Woodland Hills, California. Her death was due to Alzheimer's disease.[12] Despite contrary belief about her rumored interment at El Camino Memorial Park in San Diego, California, La Plante was actually cremated by Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery in North Hollywood, California, and her ashes scattered at sea.[13]


  • Laura La Plante Drive[14] in Agoura Hills, California


Year Title Role Note
1920 813 Genevieve Lost film
1921 Play Square May Laverne
The Old Swimmin' Hole Myrtle
The Big Town Round-Up Mildred Hart
Big Town Ideas Molly Dorn Lost film
1922 Perils of the Yukon Olga Lost film
The Wall Flower Prue Nickerson Lost film
1923 Around the World in Eighteen Days Madge Harlow Lost film
Crooked Alley Norine Tyrell
Dead Game Alice Mason
Burning Words Mary Malcolm
Shootin' for Love Mary Randolph
Out of Luck Mae Day
The Ramblin' Kid Carolyn June Lost film
The Thrill Chaser Cameo Appearance Lost film
1924 Sporting Youth Betty Rockford
Excitement Nila Lyons Lost film
The Dangerous Blonde Diane Faraday Lost film
Young Ideas Octavia Lowden
Ride for Your Life Betsy Burke Lost film
The Fast Worker Connie Fowler
Butterfly Dora Collier
1925 Smouldering Fires Dorothy Vale
The Teaser Ann Barton Lost film
Dangerous Innocence Ann Church Lost film
1926 The Beautiful Cheat Mary Callahan / Maritza Callahansky
Skinner's Dress Suit Mrs. Honey Skinner
The Midnight Sun Olga 'The Midnight Sun' Morova
Her Big Night Frances Norcross/Daphne Dix
Butterflies in the Rain Mrs. Glenson
Poker Faces Betty Whitmore
1927 The Love Thrill Joyce Bragdon Lost film
Beware of Widows Joyce Bragdon
Silk Stockings Tina Carteret
The Cat and the Canary Annabelle West
1928 Thanks for the Buggy Ride Jenny
Finders Keepers Barbara Hastings
Home, James Laura Elliot
The Last Warning Doris Terry
1929 Scandal Laura Hunt
Show Boat Magnolia Hawks
The Love Trap Evelyn Todd
Hold Your Man Mary
1930 King of Jazz Editor
Captain of the Guard Marie Marnay
1931 Stout Hearts and Willing Hands The Heroine
Arizona Evelyn Palmer Bonham
God's Gift to Women Diane Churchill
Lonely Wives Diane O'Dare
Meet the Wife Gertrude Lennox
The Sea Ghost Evelyn Inchcape
1933 Her Imaginary Lover Celia
1934 The Girl in Possession Eve Chandler
The Church Mouse Betty 'Miss Church Mouse' Miller
1935 Widow's Might Nancy Tweesdale
Man of the Moment Mary Briany
1947 Little Mister Jim Mrs. Glenson
1957 Spring Reunion May Brewster

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Laura Laplante Asher" in U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,, accessed July 21, 2022 (subscription required)
  2. ^ Brownlow, Kevin. Obituary: Laura La Plante, The Independent, October 16, 1996, accessed July 21, 2022
  3. ^ Brownlow, Kevin (October 16, 1996). "Obituary: Laura La Plante". The Independent. Archived from the original on October 4, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Drew, William. Speaking of Silents. Vestal, NJ. Vestal Press, 1989, p. 89. ISBN 0-911572-81-3
  6. ^ [Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses p. 210]
  7. ^
  8. ^ Kreuger, Miles. Show Boat – The Story of a Classic American Musical. New York, NY. Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 97.
  9. ^ John Wayne: American ISBN 0-8032-8970-7 p. 702
  10. ^ Morphosyntactic Categories and the Expression of Possession ISBN 978-9-027-27300-0 p. 192
  11. ^ from the DVD Groucho Marx --You Bet Your Life put out by "TV Classics"
  12. ^ "Hollywood Star Walk: Laura La Plante". Los Angeles Times. October 16, 1996. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  13. ^ Wilson, Scott (September 16, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. ISBN 9781476625997 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ Laura La Plante Dr – Google Maps (Map) (2014 ed.). Google Maps. Retrieved August 5, 2014.

External linksEdit