La Plante, Laura (1904–1996)

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La Plante, Laura (1904–1996)

American actress who was the first woman to sing on screen. Name variations: Laura La Plante Asher. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, on November 1, 1904; died on October 14, 1996, at Woodland Hills, California; attended school in San Diego, California; married William Seiter (a director at Warner Bros.), in 1926 (divorced 1932); married Irving Asher (a producer), on June 19, 1934; children: (second marriage) Jill Asher ; Tony Asher.

Selected films:

The Great Gamble (The Big Plunge, serial, 1919); The Old Swimmin' Hole (1921); 813 (1921); The Big Round-Up (1921); Play Square (1921); Perils of the Yukon (serial, 1922); The Wall Flower (1922); The Ramblin' Kid (1923); Dead Game (1923); Burning Words (1923); Shootin' for Love (1923); Out of Luck (1923); Ride for Your Life (1924); Sporting Youth (1924); Excitement (1924); The Dangerous Blonde (1924); Young Ideas (1924); Butterflies (1924); The Last Worker (1924); Smoldering Fires (1925); Dangerous Innocence (1925); The Teaser (1925); The Beautiful Cheat (1926); The Midnight Sun (1926); Skinner's Dress Suit (1926); Poker Faces (1926); Her Big Night (1926); Butterflies in the Rain (1926); The Love Thrill (1927); Beware of Windows (1927); The Cat and the Canary (1927); Silk Stockings (1927); Thanks for the Buggy Ride (1928); Finders Keepers (1928); Home James (1928); The Last Warning (1929); Scandal Show (1929); Show Boat (1929); The Love Trap (1929); Hold Your Man (1929); Captain of the Guard (1930); The King of Jazz (1930); Lonely Wives (1931); God's Gift to Women (1931); Arizona (Men Are Like That, 1931); Little Mister Jim (1946); Spring Reunion (1957).

One of the top silent stars of the 1920s, Laura La Plante began her film career at 15, playing a bit part in one of the popular comedy shorts made by director-producer Albert Christie. Blonde and blue-eyed, with an impish grin, she gained notice with her performance in The Old Swimmin' Hole (1921) and subsequently signed a long-term contract with Universal. She was initially cast as the heroine in Westerns and adventure films, but found her niche as the girl-next-door in social comedies. Two notable departures from her usual vehicles were the spooky melodrama The Cat and the Canary (1927) and the original version of Edna Ferber 's Show Boat (1929), in which she played Magnolia. In this part-talkie film, La Plante became the first woman to sing onscreen.

Unlike many silent stars, La Plante's voice was as pleasant as her appearance, and she could have made a smooth transition to talkies had her personal life not taken her far from Hollywood. In 1936, after divorcing her husband of six years, director William Seiter, La Plante married producer Irving Asher and retired from films to live in London, where she appeared on stage. She and Asher returned to Hollywood in 1940, but La Plante was not seen on screen again until 1946, when she took a small role opposite Jackie "Butch" Jenkins in Little Mister Jim. In 1956, she starred in a CBS television drama, and the following year appeared as Betty Hutton 's mother in the film Spring Reunion. In later years, La Plante tended to laugh off her movie career. "That was so long ago I cannot even remember doing them."


Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. NY: Harper-Collins, 1994.

Lamparski, Richard. Whatever Became of … ? 1st and 2nd Series. NY: Crown, 1967.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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La Plante, Laura (1904–1996)

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