Fairchild, Wisconsin, USA
Place of Death
Pacific Palisades, California, USA
Cause of Death
Barbiturate overdose (of Seconal pills)
Claim to Fame
One Million BC (1940)
Actor/Actress, Soundtrack, Writer
Has Detailed Data (New)
Profile Bio Text
Landis was born Frances Lillian Mary Ridste in Fairchild, Wisconsin to a Norwegian father, Alfred Ridste, and Polish mother, Clara Stentek Ridste. Her father abandoned the family before Carole was born. Author E. J. Fleming reported that Alfred Ridste may not have been Carole`s birth father and that her biological father was most likely Charles Fenner, Clara Ridste`s second husband. Carole was the youngest of five children. Two of her brothers died in childhood – Jerome was burned by scalding water and Lewis was accidentally shot. She had an unhappy childhood filled with poverty and sexual abuse. She blossomed into a stunning teenager and began winning local beauty contests. She was also an early feminist who tried to form an all-female football team in high school. Landis married a Irving Wheeler, a neighbor, in January 1934 but this marriage was annulled in February 1934. They later remarried on 25 August 1934, but divorced in 1939. She quit high school at age 15 and set herself on a path towards a career in show business.
Landis worked as a nightclub singer and a hula dancer in San Francisco before her 1937 film debut as an extra in A Star Is Born. She dyed her hair blonde and changed her name to "Carole Landis" after her favorite actress, Carole Lombard. Carole landed a contract with Warner Brothers and had a high profile engagement to choreographer Busby Berkeley. She continued appearing in bit parts until 1940 when Hal Roach cast her as a cave girl in One Million B.C. The movie was a sensation and turned Carole into a star. She was nicknamed "The Ping Girl" (which was supposed to be short for purring) and "The Chest" due to her impressive 36 DD inch bust. Although she desperately wanted to be taken seriously as an actress she was willing to pose for endless cheesecake photos if it helped her career. Carole`s trademark was a gold cross she always wore around her neck, which had been a gift from her friend Diana Lewis.
Tall, lean, glamorous and with a strong singing voice, Landis appeared in a string of successful films in the early forties, usually as the second female lead. In a time when the singing of many actresses was dubbed in, Landis`s own voice was considered good enough and was used in her few musical roles. Landis landed a contract with 20th Century Fox and began a sexual relationship with Darryl F. Zanuck. She had roles playing opposite fellow pin-up girl Betty Grable in Moon Over Miami and I Wake Up Screaming, both in 1941. When Carole ended her relationship with Zanuck, her career suffered and she was assigned roles in B-movies.
Her marriage to second husband, yacht broker Willis Hunt Jr., lasted just four months. She then married an Army Air Corps captain named Thomas Wallace in 1943, but this marriage also ended in divorce. Her many boyfriends included Franchot Tone, Gene Markey, Charlie Chaplin, and George Montgomery. Landis became a popular pin-up with servicemen during World War II. In 1942, she toured with comedienne Martha Raye, dancer Mitzi Mayfair and actress Kay Francis with a USO troupe in England and North Africa. Two years later, she entertained soldiers in the South Pacific with Jack Benny. Landis traveled more than 100,000 miles during the war and spent more time visiting troops than any other actress. She nearly died from amoebic dysentery and malaria she contracted while traveling overseas.
Besides being an actress, Landis was also an accomplished author. She penned several newspaper and magazine articles about her experiences during the war, including the 1944 book Four Jills in a Jeep, which was later made into a movie. She also wrote the foreword to Victor Herman`s cartoon book Winnie The WAC. In 1945 she starred on Broadway in the musical A Lady Says Yes with Jacqueline Susann, with whom she evidently fell in love and had an affair.Jacqueline purportedly based the character Jennifer North in her book Valley of the Dolls on Landis. In 1945, Landis married Broadway producer W. Horace Schmidlapp, who had been introduced to her by Jacqueline. She desperately wanted to become a mother, but according to numerous biographies, she suffered from endometriosis and was unable to have children.
Landis was plagued by depression her entire life and attempted suicide in 1944 and 1946. By 1948, her career was in decline and her marriage with Schmidlapp was collapsing. She entered into a romance with actor Rex Harrison, who was at the time married to actress Lilli Palmer. Landis was reported to be crushed when Harrison refused to divorce his wife for her and, unable to cope any longer, she committed suicide at Pacific Palisades, California, by taking an overdose of Seconal. She was 29 years old.
Her final night alive that 4th of July had been spent with Harrison. The last person to see her alive, he discovered her body the next morning. Harrison claimed he felt a pulse, but instead of immediately calling an ambulance he left the house. By
Couple Profile Source
Full Name at Birth
Frances Lillian Mary Ridste
Clara Stentek Ridste
Lawrence Ridste, Jerome Ridste, Lewis Ridste
Dorothy Ridste Ross
Cesar Romero, Marguerite Haymes (mother of Dick Haymes), Diana Lewis, Dorothy Kilgallen, Patsy Kelly, Dorothy Dandridge, Don Loper, Linda Darnell, Sonja Henie, Martha Raye, Kay Francis, William Powell, Pat & Eloise O' brien, Williard Parker, Margaret Roach, Eddie Sutherland, Van Johnson, Billie Burke, Burgess Meredith, Norma Koch, Rudy Vallee, Peggy McKenna, Barry Wood, Phyllis Brooks, Dick Haymes, Ann Sheridan, Dorothy Lamour, Florence Jones, Virginia Field
Donner (Dog - Great Dane given by boyfriend Gene Markey) [1941-1943], Gina (Dog - French poodle), Lucky (Dog), Jinx (Dog), Skeezix (Dog), Miss C (Cat - siamese)
Big Rings, Pins
Four Jills and a Jeep 
Carole Landis: A Tragic Life In Hollywood  (E.J. Fleming), Fallen Angels: The Lives and Untimely Deaths of Fourteen Hollywood Beauties  (Kirk Crivello)
Martha Tilton, Jinx Falkenburg, Buff Cobb, Louise Allbritton
Carole Landis (January 1, 1919 – July 5, 1948) was an American film and stage actress, who worked as a contract-player for Twentieth Century-Fox in the 1940s. Her breakthrough role was as the female lead in the 1940 film One Million B.C., with United Artists. Landis was known as "The Ping Girl" and "The Chest" because of her curvy figure.
Wiki Bio Text
Date of Birth 1 January 1919, Fairchild, Wisconsin, USA
Date of Death 5 July 1948, Pacific Palisades, California, USA (suicide)
Birth Name Frances Lillian Mary Ridste
Nicknames The 'Ping' Girl
The Blonde Bomber
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)
Mini Bio (2)
Carole Landis was born on New Year's Day in 1919 in Fairchild, Wisconsin, as Frances Lillian Mary Ridste. Her father, a railroad mechanic, was of Norwegian descent and her mother was Polish. Her father walked out, leaving Carole, her mother and an older brother and sister to fend for themselves.
After graduating from high school, she married Irving Wheeler, but the union lasted a month (the marriage was annulled because Carole was only 15 at the time). The couple remarried in August 1934, and the two headed to California to start a new life. For a while she worked as a dancer and singer, but before long the glitter of show business drew her to Los Angeles.
She won a studio contract with Warner Brothers but was a bit player for the most part in such films as A Star Is Born (1937), A Day at the Races (1937), and The Emperor's Candlesticks (1937). The following year started out much the same way, with more bit roles. By 1939, she was getting a few speaking roles, although mostly one-liners, and that year ended much as had the previous two years, with more bit roles; also, she and Wheeler were divorced.
In 1940 she was cast as Loana in the Hal Roach production of One Million B.C. (1940); she finally got noticed (the skimpy outfit helped), and her career began moving. She began getting parts in B pictures but didn't star in big productions -- although she had talent, the really good roles were given to the established stars of the day.
Her busiest year was 1942, with roles in Manila Calling (1942), The Powers Girl (1943), A Gentleman at Heart (1942), and three other movies. Unfortunately, critics took little notice of her films, and and when they did, reviewers tended to focus on her breathtaking beauty. By the middle 1940s, Carole's career was beginning to short-circuit. Her contract with 20th Century-Fox had been canceled, her marriages to Willis Hunt Jr. and Thomas Wallace had failed, and her current marriage to Horace Schmidlapp was on the skids; all of that plus health problems spelled disaster for her professionally and personally.
Her final two films, Brass Monkey (1948) and The Silk Noose (1948) were released in 1948. On July 5, 1948, Carole committed suicide by taking an overdose of Seconal in her Brentwood Heights, California, home. She was only 29 and had made 49 pictures, most of which were, unfortunately, forgettable. If Hollywood moguls had given Carole a chance, she could have been one of the brightest stars in its history.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson
In 1935, after high school and a brief marriage in San Bernardino, California, Frances Ridste ran away to San Francisco to work as a nightclub dancer and band singer under the stage name Carole Landis. She got to Hollywood at age 17 in 1936 and got mostly extra work, but in 1937 she landed a contract with Warner Bros. However, Warners gave her mostly bit parts in B pictures and in the chorus of Busby Berkeley pictures for the 15 films she made for them. Her "break" came when Hal Roach cast her as the skin-clad lead in his hit One Million B.C. (1940) and in three fine comedies, then sold her contract to 20th Century-Fox. She played "B" leads and "A" supporting roles in her first 12 Fox films, with a notable dramatic performance in I Wake Up Screaming (1941). Critics dwelled on her fresh-faced beauty, seldom mentioning her acting and comedy potential. Carole wrote a book about her first wartime USO tour, entertaining troops in England and North Africa; in the film version, Four Jills in a Jeep (1944), you can get a glimpse of the kind of talent she really had, and which Fox was wasting. Absent from film work most of that year because of USO tours in the Pacific, Carol returned to Hollywood weakened by amoebic dysentery, malaria, and near-fatal pneumonia only to find the film dismissed as "self-praise". After Having Wonderful Crime (1945)--perhaps her best comedy--and two B pictures, her Fox contract was dropped. Ostracized in Hollywood due to her ardent feminism and rumors about sexual peccadillos, she made her last two films in England. With a stalled career, poor health, failed marriages, financial problems, and the ending of a torrid affair with married Rex Harrison, Carole Landis committed suicide with Seconal in 1948. Intelligent, generous, talented and gorgeous, she was only 29.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Rod Crawford
W. Horace Schmidlapp (8 December 1945 - 5 July 1948) (her death)
Capt. Thomas C. Wallace (5 January 1943 - 19 July 1945) (divorced)
Willis Hunt Jr. (4 July 1940 - 13 November 1940) (divorced)
Irving Wheeler (25 August 1934 - 9 May 1939) (divorced)
Irving Wheeler (14 January 1934 - 1934) (annulled)
Trade Mark (1)
Blonde hair and blue eyes
Parents were Alfred Ridste, a railroad mechanic, and Clara Stentek Ridste. They separated when Carole was a baby.
Had four older siblings, two of whom survived her. Lawrence Bernard Ridste (1912 - 1988), Lewis Andrew Ridste (1913 - 1925), Jerome Arthur Ridste (1916 - 1917), and Dorothy Anna Ridste Ross (1917 - 1997). Her brother Lewis died after being accidentally shot in the abdomen by a friend. Her brother Jerome died in infancy.
Carole protested strongly and publicly against the nonsensical nickname "The Ping Girl" (apparently short for "purring") coined by Hal Roach publicist Frank N. Seltzer in April 1940.
In her musicals, Carole usually sang in her own voice.
A keen amateur photographer, she developed her own pictures.
She initiated divorce proceedings against her last husband in March 1948 but the divorce was not final when she died.
Rex Harrison, who had dined with her the previous night, discovered her body the day she committed suicide.
Following her untimely death, she was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, in the Everlasting Love area.
Became friendly with future author Jacqueline Susann in 1944 when they appeared together in the Broadway revue "The Lady Says Yes". The character of fragile, blonde Jennifer North in "Valley of the Dolls" is partially based on Landis.
A feminist at a young age, she once tried to start a girls football team at school but got into trouble because it was considered "un-lady like".
Actress Diana Lewis once gave Carole a gold cross as a gift. Carole wore the cross for the rest of her life and was even buried wearing it.
She was the youngest of five children. Two of her brothers died when they were toddlers. Jerome was burned by scalding water and Lewis was accidentally shot.
Spent more time visiting troops during World War II than any other Hollywood star. She nearly died from malaria she contracted while traveling overseas.
She chose the name Carole because she was a huge fan of Carole Lombard.
Carole desperately wanted to become a mother but she suffered from endometriosis and could not have children. She had numerous other health problems during her life including dysentery, malaria, pneumonia and depression.
Her name was legally changed to Carole Landis on April 23, 1942.
She was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1765 Vine Street in Hollywood, California on February 8, 1960.
Had appeared with Cesar Romero in four films: Dance Hall (1941), A Gentleman at Heart (1942), Orchestra Wives (1942) and Wintertime (1943).
Her second husband, Willis Hunt, was stabbed to death by his 6th wife, Deannie Best, during a violent argument. Best, whose attorney claimed Hunt was "drunk and unstable" and picked up the butcher knife he was killed with, was acquitted in November 1970.
Personal Quotes (8)
[on Lupe Velez's suicide, which occurred years before her own] I know how Lupe Velez felt. You fight just so long and then you begin to worry about being washed up. You fear there's one way to go and that's down.
I have no intention of ending my career in a rooming house, with full scrapbooks and an empty stomach.
Every girl in the world wants to find the right man, someone who is sympathetic and understanding and helpful and strong, someone she can love madly.
Although I avoided dramatics - and everything else - in school. I wanted to be a success on the stage, the screen, or the radio. So I saved my money and when I had bus fare and $16.82 over, I told my mother, Clara, I was going to leave home. She was heartbroken, but she believed in me.
We had a wonderful time everywhere overseas. But it was hard. For five months, we never gave less than five shows a day. It was too cold to sleep nights and there wasn't water enough to take a bath. I had to do my own washing. And I ate more sand and fog, than food.
I want to be as good an actress as Bette Davis, and I'd like to be a great singer. But more than that, I'd like to be happily married and have some children.
A man can be an absolute heel and a woman, knowing it, can still be madly in love with him.
Stardom is merely some talent, a few breaks and a lot of publicity. I have the talent, the publicity will come and so will the breaks. Just give me a couple of years.
One Million B.C. (1940) $75 /week