Today is the 100th birthday of actress and dancer Carla Laemmle, who is also the niece of Universal Studios founder, Carl Laemmle.
Carla Laemmle was born Rebecca Isabelle Laemmle on October 20, 1909 in Chicago, Illinois. According to the 1910 census, when Carla was 6 months old, she was living with her family at 4244 Vincennes Avenue, and may have been born there.
Carla was the daughter of Joseph Laemmle, who was Carl’s older brother. Joseph was 76 when died in March 1929. Her mother, Carrie Belle Norton Laemmle, was born in Connecticut and died in March 1962 at age 91. Carla also had a half-brother, Universal director, Edward Laemmle who died in 1937.
Carla Laemmle is thrown onto the laps of fellow passsengers in the opening sequence of Dracula (1931)
Carla had an uncredited role as a ballerina in The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and continued in smaller parts in Universal films. In 1931 she had the opportunity to speak the first line of dialogue in the horror classic, Dracula. She plays a bookish young girl who reads to her fellow passengers while riding in a coach. Today she is the only surviving cast member of the film.
Click below to watch Carla Laemmle in Dracula. She appears at one minute and 19 seconds into the film.
Besides Dracula, Carla had small roles in several films of the 1920s and 30s such as Topsy and Eva (1927), The Broadway Melody (1929), King of Jazz (1930) and the Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935). Also a dancer, she appeared in many venues including the one below at the Shrine Auditorium on June 11, 1931.
In 1936 she played Princess Quan Mui Mai in Her Majesty The Prince at the Music Box Theater. In 2001 Carla appeared in The Vampire Hunters Cluband this year co-authored a book about growing up on the Universa lot from 1921 to 1937 called Growing Up With Monsters: My Times at Universal Studios in Rhymes. Still active at 100, she recently attended the Cinecon banquet this past September. Happy Birthday Carla!
Carla Laemmle at the recent Cinecon banquet in September (Photo by Allan R. Ellenberger)