| Proudly Presents a Tribute to...
Laura La Plante
It was with great sadness to hear about the death of
91 year old Laura La Plante on 15th October 1996.
Although she is best remembered as one of the silent screen's leading comediennes, she had
appeared in two films directed by the brilliant German emigre Paul Leni.
The Cat and the Canary (1927) made by Universal
Studios where Laura remained from 1924 - 1930, featured her as Annabelle West, the sole
heir to the fortune of eccentric millionaire Cyrus West. The film is thankfully still in
existence today for audiences to appreciate and is testament not only to Laura's ability,
but also as an example of Leni's creativity and visual flair. The film is now deservedly
looked upon as the prototype of all old-dark-house thrillers.
The Last Warning (1929) gave Laura top billing in
a moody film depicting a series of hauntings at a rundown Broadway Theatre. The formula
was much the same as her previous genre appearance with the horrific elements blending
well with the comedy. Although this film is also still in existance it is unfortunately
rarely ever screened as most festivals or special television seasons tend to utilise The Cat and the Canary as the best example of the
In addition, Laura can be seen during a ballet sequence in Universal's Flash Gordon of 1936 when scenes from 1926's THE
MIDNIGHT SUN directed by Dimitri Buchowerzski were borrowed for the serial.
It was in 1929 that Laura La Plante made her debut in the talkies with
Universal's SCANDAL followed closely by the first version of SHOWBOAT for the same studio.
After appearing in the lavish Technicolor production, THE KING OF JAZZ in 1930, Laura left
Universal to work for other Hollywood studios, but soon decided to relinquish her star
status and make only sporadic film appearances thereafter.
In 1932 she divorced her husband, director William Seiter who featured her in many of his
films, and two years later married Irving Asher, production chief for Warner Bros'. First
National films in Britain. Residing in England, Laura made five films, only three of them
survive today: THE CHURCH MOUSE (1934), THE MAN OF THE MOMENT (1935) and WIDOWS MIGHT
Laura's two children Tony and
Jill who were both born in England have since made themselves a name in the world of
The Ashers returned to Beverly Hills in California during the mid-Forties where they lived
in comfort and Laura took up the art of sculpting while only making a few appearances on
television and the silver screen. Irving Asher passed away in 1985.
Laura's final screen appearance was in 1957 with SPRING REUNION as the mother of Betty
As time marches on, inevitably
we have to lose those we cherish from a bygone age. Therefore it is with deep-felt sorrow
that we must part company with yet another casualty of time, but her passing makes it even
more important to record and remember her achievments, just like the many other
contributors to the history of the cinema that deserve continued recognition.
Poster and lobby card stills
courtesy of Ronald V. Borst