Thursday, June 26, 2014


My dear friend, Carla Laemmle, niece of the founder of Universal Pictures, Carl Laemmle, died, one week ago today, at the shining age of 104.

She was an actor and dancer in the Silent Film Era and Golden Age of Hollywood.  She spoke the very first line of dialogue ever in a horror film in the original Dracula (1931) starring Bella Lugosi and appeared as the Prima Ballerina in The Phantom of the Opera (1925) starring Lon Chaney.
Carla Laemmle tribute collage created by Liesl Ehardt.
(image credits: Top, MiddleBottom)

I can't begin to express how much she will be missed. Her belief in me as an actor, true friendship, kindness, talent, heartfelt letters, thank you notes, warmth, grace, timeless beauty, style, overwhelmingly positive spirit and always shining smile were a true inspiration to me.  

As I look back fondly on our friendship, I'm filled with bitter-sweet memories.  That said, I feel I'm a better person simply having known her.  It was having been touched by her electrifying personality and energy, which was beautifully contagious, that was the cherry on top for me.

Thank you, Carla, for all you taught me, the belief you had in me and "light" you saw within me, not only as an actor, but as a person.  I feel so fortunate to have known you, but even more thankful to have called you a friend.  You lived a full, magical and inspiring life and are leaving behind a legacy to match.

Left: With Carla in Los Angeles, CA after one of our many lunch holding a card from me.
Right: On the red carpet with her for her 100th Birthday at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, CA.
With Carla and our dear friend and author, Rick Atkins, in Los Angeles, CA after lunch to celebrate
her 99th birthday at her beloved El Coyote Mexican Restaurant.
Copy of Carla's Biography Among The Rugged Peaks by Rick Atkins,
which she gave to me with a sweet inscription inside.
Out to one of many lunches with Carla in Los Angeles.  
Her smile, warmth, style, youth and energy were infections and inspiring to me.
Before I left LA for NYC, Carla gave me this picture of her taken on the set of the original "Dracula" (1931).
She autographed and inscribed it with the famous 1st line of dialogue in the film...
"Among the rugged peaks," which she was fortunate to speak.
Those words are also the first ever spoken in a horror movie after the Silent Film Era in Hollywood. 

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by Liesl Ehardt