Today is the birthday of Laura La Plante (1904-1996).
If we fudge a little in filing her under “Stars of Slapstick”, it’s not by much. She got her start in the movies (at the tender age of 15) in Bringing Up Father shorts (based on the comic strip) for the Christie Film Company, one of the minor comedy studios. Within months she had graduated to features at the majors. In the ’20s she was to star in many comedies opposite Reginald Denny, as well as westerns opposite Tom Mix and Hoot Gibson. In 1923, she was voted one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. In 1926 she married director William Seiter. The following year she made the film she is best remembered for today, the original (silent) version of The Cat and the Canary. Notable sound films included The King of Jazz (1930) with Paul Whiteman and God’s Gift to Women (1931) with Frank Fay. In 1934 she divorced Seiter and married producer Irving Asher, then moved to Britain where she worked in films through 1935. After she made a handful of sporadic appearances through the mid 1950s. Her sister Violet also appeared in silent films 1924-28.
To learn more about comedy film history don’t miss my book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc. For still more on show biz history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.