Laemmle in the 1920s and as shot by me in 2011
Carla Laemmle, one of the last people to have appeared in a silent film—including the classic The Phantom of the Opera (1925)—has died at the incredible age of 104.
Laemmle as a young woman in Dracula—she spoke the film's first words.
As important as her tie to the Silent Era was her distinction as having appeared in the all-time great film Dracula (1931).
Laemmle was a dancer and actress whose experience in Hollywood was made possible by her uncle, the powerful founder of Universal, Carl Laemmle. She was a very well-liked figure in the community, often appearing at events to support film history, preservation and appreciation.
Laemmle celebrates 102 with (L to R) Terry Moore, Frances Fisher, Morgan Fairchild, Carol Channing & Louisa Moritz.
In recent years, Laemmle—always in good physical and mental shape—was a staple at The Hollywood Show, an autograph show in Burbank and L.A., which is where I had the good fortune to meet her. She was a sweet woman, one who looked askance at her fellow luminaries for selling their autographs at too high a price—her going rate was five bucks. Check out this video shot in the past year of her signing a racy photo from her glamorous past.
A couple of years ago, on the occasion of Laemmle's birthday, Carol Channing led attendees in a rendition of “Happy Birthday,” noting with some distress of the somewhat older woman, She looks better than I do!
My “Last Star Standing” post has only 10 other silent-movie participants listed (the only true star being Baby Peggy), plus another four whose whereabouts and therefore whose probable dates of death are unknown.