Memories of Alan Ladd and others
by Geoff Lipton - October 2015
I live in Australia, and I used to manufacture statues & lamps of various movie stars, so you can imagine I’m a real movie buff. I had Sylvester Stallone autograph a statue of himself, & once presented Bob Hope with a statue of himself. I met Groucho Marx in his home in November 1976 and had him sign a book on the Marx Bros. He was 86 & passed away the next year in August 1977. I have been in a few Aussie movies & TV mini-series & had the privilege of working for one day here in Melbourne with Gregory Peck. He did a one-scene cameo in a TV mini-series of Moby Dick, which he had originally starred in the 1955 movie. I should mention I’ve only done bits.
I first met Sue Carol Ladd in 1978. She was originally Evelyn Lederer, a Jewish girl from Chicago. She invited myself, my wife and three sons to her home. Her home was built by Alan and herself in 1949 on Mapleton Drive in Bel Air and she had remained there after he passed away in 1964. Our first visit was at night, total strangers, and she greeted us, took us inside & gave us all drinks. In the lounge above the fireplace was a magnificent painting of Alan ( she told us to refer to him that way ). She showed us some photo albums & when I asked what her favourite Alan Ladd movie was, she said 'Shane'. Mind you, one of my three sons is named Shane after the movie so maybe that influenced her. Attached is a photo of myself & Sue Carol Ladd in her home in December 1978. Sue Carol stared in a few films between 1927 and 1937, then gave it away and became an agent. Meanwhile Alan Ladd was starring on radio in a series called ‘Box 13‘ about a private detective. He had a great speaking voice and someone drew Sue’s attention to him. She tracked him down, had him come to her office, fell in love with him, married him, got him bit parts in many movies and in 1942 landed him the starring role of a cold blooded killer named Raven in 'This Gun For Hire', and that movie made him a star. Sue Carol managed his career until his death at the age of 50 in 1964. On subsequent business visits to L.A. I always phoned her and she always invited me to visit. On one visit she gave me a tie that had belonged to Alan. It had his initials woven into the material so I guess a tie manufacturer made it specially for him.
I visited her son David and discovered he had the belt worn by Alan Ladd in the movie 'Shane'. He put it on me & took a photo. I later showed the photo to Billy Crystal who was doing a show in Melbourne called '700 Sundays'. Billy Crystal projected on a screen a clip from 'Shane' so he was fascinated how I had the photo. Billy Crystal told me that when he was five years old, singer Billy Holiday took him to his first movie, which was 'Shane'.
By the way, Milton Berle told me that is first time before a movie camera was in a Charlie Chaplin move called Tillie's Punctured Romance, which wasn't released until after his next part in The Perils of Pauline.