Carla Laemmle

Rebekah Isabelle "Carla" Laemmle (October 20, 1909 – June 12, 2014) was an American actress of German Jewish descent, and the niece of Universal Pictures studio founder Carl Laemmle. She was a movie actress in the 1920s and 1930s, and one of the longest surviving actors of the silent film era. Her career in motion pictures also spanned almost ninety years from her first appearance in 1925 to her last in 2014.

 

Laemmle entered films in 1925, as "Carla Laemmle", in an uncredited role as a ballet dancer in the original silent film version of The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and later had a small role in the early talkie version of Dracula (1931). In that classic film, she portrayed (again uncredited) a bespectacled passenger riding in a bumpy horse-drawn carriage with Renfield as he is traveling to Dracula's castle, and had the first spoken line of dialogue in the film. Laemmle continued to appear in small roles until the late 1930s, when she disappeared from the movie screen. She briefly came out of retirement to play a vampire in The Vampire Hunters Club (2001).

 

In 2009 the book Growing Up With Monsters: My Times at Universal Studios in Rhymes, co-authored by Carla Laemmle and Daniel Kinske, was released. The book details her life at Universal Studios from 1921 to 1937. On October 20, 2009, she celebrated her 100th birthday with a guestlist which included Ray Bradbury, George Clayton Johnson, Bela Lugosi, Jr., Sara Karloff and Ron Chaney.

 

On October 3, 2010 she appeared in BBC Four documentary A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss, sharing memories of her early film work with Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi. She recited her opening lines from Dracula.

 

In November 2010 she made an appearance in the documentary Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood for Turner Classic Movies and in May 2011 she appeared in Paul Merton's Birth of Hollywood on the BBC. In March 2012, Turner Classic Movies presented a screening ofDracula, Laemmle appeared at the screening in connection with its Classic Movie Festival.

 

Laemmle died at her home in Los Angeles at the age of 104 on June 12, 2014. She never married and had no children. Her closest survivors are a great-niece, Rosemary Hilb, and great-grandniece, Antonia Carlotta