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Carole Landis was born Frances Lillian Mary Ridste in Wisconsin in 1919 to a Norwegian father and a Polish mother. She was the youngest of five children, but two of her brothers died when they were toddlers, one burned by scalding water and one accidentally shot, and her father abandoned his family when she was a teen. At 15 she got married, but it was annulled after a month, although she re-married the same man a few months later. She moved to Los Angeles and received her first movie role in 1937, and although she was strikingly beautiful and could act well, she spent three years playing bit parts in 27 movies. In 1940 she got her big break as the lead in Hal Roach's One Million B.C., playing a cavegirl opposite Victor Mature. She also divorced her husband and re-married, but that marriage only lasted 5 months. Roach sold her contract to 20th Century Fox, where she played supporting roles in major pictures and the lead in some minor pictures. Among the movies she made at this time were I Wake Up Screaming, Moon Over Miami, and Turnabout. She went on USO tours to England and North Africa during WWII, and she patriotically spent more time visiting troops in than any other Hollywood star. But she caught amoebic dysentery, malaria, and pneumonia while in Africa, and she never fully recovered. As the war ended, her contract at Fox was dropped, and she was divorced from her soldier husband she had married during the war. She married a man named Horace Schmidlapp (her fourth marriage), and she had great trouble getting film roles. After she left her fourth husband, she had an affair with married actor Rex Harrison, and when that ended badly, Landis committed suicide in 1948 by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. She was just 29! She had been friends during the war with future author Jacqueline Susann, and it is thought that the character Jennifer North in Susann's "Valley of the Dolls" was based on Landis.
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