Vale Carla Laemmle
Former child actress (during the silent picture era) Carla Laemmle passed away on Thursday, June 12, 2014, at 104. Her first appearance on the silver screen was in 1925’s “Phantom of the Opera,” and she would go on to make at least three other movies (including “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in 1927) before her 18th birthday.
She was born October 20, 1909 as Rebecca Isabelle Laemmle, the niece of Universal Pictures co-founder Carl Laemmle, so she spent her formative years on the studio lots, watching films being shot. Thus, her interest in a performing career was ignited and encouraged. In fact, in 1921, with her father Joseph suffering from ill health, her family began living at Universal City in a house located inside the gated film enclave.
Ballet dance lessons occupied much of her youth and a successful screen test before the legendary director Erich von Stroheim resulted in her being signed to a contract. It was during the life of that contract that she uttered the very first narration lines heard in the now-classic Bela Lugosi “Dracula” movie, released in 1931.
Carla Laemmle (pronounced “LEM lee,” of German origin) almost witnessed the birth of motion pictures and lived through both the Silver and Golden Ages of the industry, surviving long enough to see the creation of digital productions and sophisticated 3D effects. Many in our profession are envious of what she experienced, firsthand.
She had no children, but was blessed with an extended family and many friends (as well as admirers) and it is all of them, to whom we offer our best wishes and deepest personal condolences.
Contributed by Fred T. Beeman