Born Frances Lillian Mary Ridste in Fairchild, Wisconsin to a Norwegian father and Polish mother, her early life was a struggle as her father abandoned the family and left them to fend for themselves. By the age of 15, Landis had married and left high school, but this marriage was annulled and she set herself on a path towards a career in show business.
She worked as a nightclub singer and hula dancer before her 1937 film debut as an extra in A Star Is Born. She continued appearing in uncredited bit parts until being signed to a contract in 1940. Her first starring role as a cave girl in One Million B.C. attracted a lot of attention and made her a celebrity if not a star.
Tall, lean, blonde and glamorous, and with a strong singing voice, Landis appeared in a string of films in the early forties, usually as the second female lead. In a time when many actresses were dubbed in their singing roles, Landis' own voice was considered good enough and was used in her few musical roles.
She had two roles playing opposite the pin-up Betty Grable in Moon Over Miami and I Wake Up Screaming both 1941. Landis too became a popular pin-up with servicemen during World War II and toured with the USO in England and North Africa. She starred in the film that was made about this tour, Four Jills and a Jeep but the response from the public was lukewarm, and Landis's career seemed to stall.
By 1948 her career had faded, she had health problems, and with three divorces and several failed romances behind her, she entered into a romance with the actor Rex Harrison who was at the time married to the actress Lilli Palmer. Landis was reported to be crushed when Harrison refused to divorce his wife in her favour and unable to cope any longer, she committed suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates. Her final night alive had been spent with Harrison and it was Harrison who found her body the next morning. There was a scandal, however his career resumed with relative ease.
Carole Landis was interred in the Forest Lawn Cemetery, in Glendale, California in the Everlasting Love section.
She was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to Motion Pictures, at 1765 Vine St.
The character of Jennifer North in the novel Valley of the Dolls and played by Sharon Tate in the film of the same name, was based partly on Carole Landis. The author Jacqueline Susann and Landis had worked together during the early forties and became friends.
Carole Landis Facts
|Frances Lillian Mary Ridste
|January 1, 1919
|Fairchild, Wisconsin, USA
|Date of death
|July 5, 1948 (age 29)
|5' 6" (1m68) How tall is Carole Landis compared to you?
|Scandal in Paris (1946)
|Having Wonederful Crime (1945)
|Four Jills In A Jeep (1944)
|My Gal Sal (1942)
|Orchestra Wives (1942)
|I Wake Up Screaming (1941)
|Moon Over Miami (1941)
|Road Show (1941)
|Topper Returns (1941)
|One Million B.C. (1940) (breakthrough)
|A Star Is Born (1937)