"The first time I wore a bare midriff gown, Hollywood noticed me. Hollywood didn't discover me, I discovered it." - Carole Landis
Carole Landis was born Frances Lillian Ridste on January 1, 1919, in Fairchild, Wisconsin. She was the youngest of five children. Carole's father abandoned the family and her mother took the children to California. At the age of fifteen Carole married Irving Wheeler. Her mother had the marriage annulled but they soon remarried. Carole started her career as a nightclub singer in San Francisco. She appeared as an extra in the movies A Star Is Born and A Day At The Races. Carole divorced Irving in 1939. She dated choreographer Busby Berkeley and Charlie Chaplin. In 1940 she landed her first starring role in the film One Million BC.
That same year Carole married her second husband, Willis Hunt Jr, but the marriage lasted only four months. It was reported that Willis abused her. Carole became a popular pin-up and was nicknamed "The Ping Girl" (it was a name Carole hated). She costarred with Betty Grable in Moon Over Miami and with Joan Blondell in Topper Returns. In January 1943 Carole married Thomas Wallace, an Air Force pilot. During World War 2 Carole spent more time visiting troops than any other actress.While working overseas she almost died from malaria and amoebic dysentery. Carole wrote a book based on her experiences, Four Jills In A Jeep, that was made into a movie in 1944. She also starred on Broadway in the musical A Lady Says Yes.
There are rumors that Carole had a romantic relationship with her costar, Jacqueline Susann. The character of Jennifer North in Jacqueline's book Valley Of The Dolls was based on Carole. She divorced Thomas and married producer Horace Schmidlapp in 1945. By this time Carole's career was in trouble. She appeared in low budget movies like Having Wonderful Crime and Behind Green Lights. In 1947 Carole began having an affair with married actor Rex Harrison. She filed for divorce from her husband in March 1948. On the night of July 4, 1948 Carole committed suicide by taking an overdose of Seconal. She was just twenty-nine years old. In a note to her mother Carole wrote "I am sorry, really sorry, to put you through this. But there is no way to avoid it". Carole is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
Moon Over Miami (1941)