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Carol Landis Throws It All Away For Dr Doolittle

Carole Landis was a pin-up girl. Carole Landis was a movie star. Carole Landis was a very damaged young woman. She was born on January 1st 1919 as Frances Ridste. Her father split when she was young. Her mother married another man after that, who may have actually been Carole's biological father as her mother was having an affair with him. He also left when she was young. Being abandoned by two dads really did a number on her psyche. The sexual abuse she was said to have suffered at the hands of a family member surely didn't help.

Frances was obsessed with movies and wanted to be a star. She changed her name to Carole after Carole Lombard. She dropped out of school and went to work as a dancer and as a singer before heading off to Hollywood to become a star. She got a bit part in the original A Star Is Born, but her big break was in One Million B.C.  Her figure and skimpy costume shot her to stardom, just as would happen to Raquel Welch decades later when she starred in the remake. 

Besides being married four times in her short life, Landis had affairs with Busby Berkeley, Darryl F. Zanuck, and Rex Harrison. Ending her fling with Zanuck has been blamed for her career getting derailed into B movies. But the affair with Harrison is the one that would ultimately lead to her demise. Sexy Rex, as he was apparently known, was married while he was fooling around with Carole. She wanted him to leave his wife for her, but he refused. On July 4, 1948 Rex had dinner with Carole. He was the last person to see her alive. She overdosed on Seconal that night. Harrison also was the one to find her dead the next day, alongside her maid.

As lurid as a star offing herself because her famous lover won't leave his wife to be with her might be, Carole's family insists the story is even more of a tabloid wet dream. They think that Rex killed Carole, or at the very least allowed her to die so that word of the affair wouldn't get out. Their evidence for this seems flimsy at best to me. They say that him being the last one to see her alive and the first to find her dead is incriminating. But he was banging her, so that doesn't seem a big stretch to me. They say that although she had attempted suicide before, none of those attempts were really serious and were just to get attention. They say that she was happy and seemed carefree the weeks before she died. Both of these conditions are quite common in people who kill themselves. The big piece of evidence is an alleged second suicide note that Harrison had hi attorney destroy, but I can't find any evidence this was more than a rumor.

All in all the official story seems to make sense and fit all the facts. It is also lurid enough and has enough tragedy to fuel any number of Lifetime movies of the week. (Don't know if younger readers will get that reference.)  The suggestion that Harrison found her alive and waited for her to die is a possibility I suppose, but it's much more likely that she was dead and that time was spent cleaning the house of anything that might embarrass Carole or Rex, or any other stars. We saw this repeatedly in these type of situations in the Hollywood of that era. Before cops or doctors were called in, the studio was given a chance to scrub the area. However it happened, Harrison had some guilt in the matter, and the world was deprived of a beautiful, smart and talented lady who never git the chance to reach her full potential.


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