Carole Landis was an American film and stage actress whose break-through role was as the female lead in the 1940 film One Million B.C.. Landis has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 1765 Vine Street.
Landis was born Frances Lillian Mary Ridste in Fairchild, Wisconsin. Her mother was a Polish farmer’s daughter. A Time magazine article published the month of her death identifies her father as a “drifting railroad mechanic”; according to a 2005 biography, the mother was married to Norwegian Alfred Ridste, who abandoned the family before Carole was born, and it was Charles Fenner, her mothers’s second husband, who most likely was Carole’s biological father. Carole was the youngest of five children, two of whom died in childhood. She was raised Roman Catholic.
In January 1934, 15-year-old Landis married her 19-year-old neighbor, Irving Wheeler, but the marriage was annulled in February 1934. They later remarried on August 25, 1934. Wheeler named Busby Berkeley in an alienation of affections lawsuit in 1938 involving Landis, and they divorced in 1939.
Landis dropped out of high school at age 15 and set forth on a career path to show business. She started out as a hula dancer in a San Francisco nightclub and later sang with a dance band. She dyed her hair blonde and changed her name to “Carole Landis” after her favorite actress, Carole Lombard. After saving $100 she moved to Hollywood.