Alan Ladd was born Alan Walbridge Ladd on September 3, 1913 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Alan Ladd's mother, Ina Raleigh, immigrated from England at the age of 19. His father Alan Ladd Sr., an accountant, died when he was four. At age five his mother moved them to Oklahoma City. In Oklahoma City, she married Jim Beavers, a housepainter. The family moved again when Alan was 8, this time to North Hollywood, California.
In high school, Ladd became a track, swimming and diving champion. By 1931 he was training for the 1932 Olympics, but an injury put an end to his Olympic dreams. He then opened a hamburger stand called Tiny's Patio. Tiny from a nickname he earned as a child. Later he went to work at Warner Brothers as a grip.
His job at Warner Brothers soon led to uncredited roles in numerous films, the first being Tom Brown of Culver (1932). He also appeared in uncredited roles in such films as Come On, Leathernecks (1940), The Green Hornet (1940), The Howards of Virginia (1940), and Citizen Kane (1941).
Alan Ladd's first big break came when he was cast as Philip Raven in This Gun For Hire (1942) in which he played a hitman with a conscience. In this film he starred opposite Veronica Lake.
Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd would star in six more films together: The Glass Key (1942), The Blue Dahlia (1946), Duffy's Tavern (1945), Saigon (1948), Star Spangled Rhythm (1942), and Variety Girl (1947).
Alan Ladd became most famous for his title role as a gunslinger in the classic 1953 western Shane.
Ladd's other most notable movies include The Great Gasby (1949), Lucky Jordan (1943), China (1943) and his last film The Carpertbaggers (1964).
Thanks to wise business investments, Ladd became a wealthy man, with properties in Beverly Hills and, in Palm Springs. He was also the founder of Alan Ladd Hardware.
Alan Ladd was married twice. His first marriage was to Marjorie Jane Harrold (October 1936 to 1941, divorced) and they had one child Alan Ladd III. His second marriage was to Sue Carol (March 15, 1942 - January 29, 1964, his death) and they had two children, David and Alana. David Ladd would go on to marry Charlie's Angels star Cheryl Ladd. He is the grandfather of actress Jordan Ladd.
Alan Ladd suffered from severe depression and in 1962 attempted suicide by shooting himself.
Alan Ladd died on January 29, 1964 from an overdose of alcohol and sedatives.