Alan Ladd never intended to be a movie star. He was working as a crew member on a film at Warner Bros. in the early 1930s when “he saw Errol Flynn doing all these wonderful things and said, ‘I can do that!'” his son, Alan Ladd Jr., 81, exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “And from there it just snowballed.”

Even as he found fame in film noir favorites like The Gun for Hire and such Western classics as Shane, Alan Sr. maintained the same workaday attitude with which he’d been raised. His father died when Alan Sr. was six years old, and his mother remarried a house painter. The family lived in a migrant camp in Pasadena, CA before Alan Sr. got involved in the movie industry. “He never discussed” his difficult childhood, Alan Jr. told Closer. 

Alan Ladd
Alan Ladd Sr. in ‘Shane.’ Getty Images

Nor did he trumpet his own stardom. Alan Jr. didn’t even know his dad was an actor until he saw a preview for an upcoming movie when he was only six or seven. “I never saw him get caught up in fame,” Alan Jr. shared. Alan had divorced Alan Jr.’s mom, Majorie Harrold, a few years earlier, and he soon remarried actress/agent Sue Carol. “My stepmother was more involved with the business than he was,” Alan Jr. remembered. “She was an extraordinary woman, and he was a good husband.” He was close with Alan Jr. as well as his children with Sue, Alana and David (who also became an actor and producer). “He was a good father,” Alan Jr. said.

“I don’t care how small the parts are, as long as they’re good,” Alan Sr. once said, and he passed along his humble outlook to Alan Jr., who became a producer and studio executive. “I learned it’s not necessary to scream and yell at people,” Alan Jr. said. “I was very quiet and laid-back, just like he was.”

Alan Ladd Jr.
Alan Ladd Jr. Getty Images

Sadly, Alan Sr. died of an accidental overdose at 50 in 1964, but his legacy lives on. Said Alan Jr., “He was a good guy.”

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