Friday, June 20, 2014

Carla Laemmle

As many of you know, last week we lost one of the few remaining links we have to the silent film era. Carla Laemmle passed away at the age of 104 years old. She was a beautiful young lady who shared wonderful stories about her time in Hollywood and rubbing elbows with such big names as Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney. One of my favorite stories is when she talked about seeing Bela with scratch marks and when asked what they were from, he just went "Clara! Clara!" (as in Bow!) I love reading/hearing stuff like this.

Carla may not have had a huge career in Hollywood but she deserves to be remembered as a beautiful link to a beautiful era. 

Carla Laemmle was born Rebecca Isabelle Laemmle on October 20, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois. 

She was the only child born to Joseph and Carrie Laemmle. Joseph, who worked in real estate, was the older brother of Carl Laemmle, founder of Universal Studios. Joseph was married previously and had a son, Edward, who was 22 years old when his half sister was born. Edward eventually became a film director.

Joseph received a postcard from his brother, Carl inviting him and his family out to California. The family eventually settled near the Universal Studios back lot which gave young Carla a chance to see various films being made, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame starring Lon Chaney.

Carla made her film debut as a ballerina in Lon Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera. Mary Philbin, the leading lady of the film would become one of Carla's closest friends. 

Even though Carla didn't become a huge star she did appear in some of the most well known pictures during the silent era. In 1927, she appeared in TWO versions of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The first was with Vivian and Rosetta Duncan in Topsy and Eva and after was the version starring Margarita Fischer. Two years later she appeared as a dancer in the smash hit talkie, Broadway Melody with Bessie Love and Anita Page. (I love that movie!)

The film that she is probably the best known for is 1929's Dracula starring Bela Lugosi. Carla appeared as a coach passenger who uttered the first lines of the film.

In 1939, Carla decided to take a hiatus from the screen and what a hiatus it was! She didn't appear in another film again until 2001! She was acting all the way up until this year in low budget horror films, a few of which featured Tyrone Power Jr. (who is really Tyrone Power IV)

Carla Laemmle passed away on June 12, 2014 in her sleep.

She was buried at the Home of Peace Memorial Park in Los Angeles along with her uncle Carl, aunt Recha, and cousin Carl Jr. 

It seems that the Laemmles had some strong genes. Carla's mother, Carrie died in 1962 at the age of 91, and her father, Joseph, died in 1929 at the age of 76!

Carla never married, but she did have a long term relationship with actor Ray Cannon.

Early during her career she used the stage name 'Beth Laemmle.' 

"I had the privilege of speaking the first lines of dialogue in the first talking supernatural thriller!" ~~ Carla Laemmle

Rest in peace, beautiful lady.


  1. Poor Carla being one of the last of the silent but kudos to her for acting in her 90's! I didn't know her name but always remembered her face in Dracula and was intrigued with her from an early age

    1. Yeah, she was never a big star but she definitely deserves to be remembered.