Carole's Childhood

Ridste Carole Landis Clara Ridste Lewis Ridste Lawrence
Carole (sitting on her mother's lap) with her brothers
Carole Landis was born Frances Lillian Ridste on January 1, 1919 in the small town of Fairchild, Wisconsin. She was named after her maternal grandmother Francis Sentek. Her grandparents had come to America from Germany, Poland, and Norway. Carole's father Alfred Ridste was a railroad worker and her mother Clara Sentek Ridste was a housewife. She had four older siblings - Lawrence, Lewis, Jerome, and Dorothy. Sadly her brother Jerome had died in 1917 after being burned by boiling water. In the Spring of 1919 the family moved to Denton, Montana. Clara began having a relationship with Charles Fenner, a longtime family friend. She filed for divorce and Alfred sued Charles for alienation of affection. The divorce became so messy that Carole and her siblings were put in Foster care for a short time. There is speculation that Charles Fenner may be Carole's biological father. Clara married Charles in December of 1919 but the marriage only lasted eighteen months.

Carole Landis Dorothy Ross 1923Carole Landis Dorothy Ross
Carole (left) with Dorothy                                                       Carole (wearing headband) with Dorothy  

Alfred Ridste Lewis Ridste Dorothy Ross Carole Landis Lawrence Ridste
Lewis, Dorothy. Alfred Ridste, Carole, and Lawrence

She took the children to San Diego, California where she remarried with Alfred. The family lived at 4152 Park Boulevard. In 1923 they moved to San Bernardino and bought a house at 175 Bryant Street. That same year Alfred walked out on Clara leaving her to raise the children alone. They were very poor and Carole's older sister Dorothy had to babysit while their mother worked. Carole was a beautiful child with blonde hair and blue eyes. Everyone called her "Baby Doll". She loved dressing up her dolls and planting flowers in the garden. Tragically in July of 1925 her ten year old brother Lewis died after he was accidentally shot with gun. Carole became star-struck when she was seven years old and told her mother "I'm going to be a movie star". She went to the movies every week and bought second hand movie magazines. Carole covered her walls with photos of Kay Francis, Mary Astor, and the Gish sisters. At the age of nine she impulsively ran onstage during a talent show and began singing "That's My Weakness Now"She attended Sturges junior high where she played on the volleyball team and sang a solo in the school's Halloween recital.

Carole Landis Lawrence RidsteCarole Landis Age Eight
Carole playing dress-up with her brother                                                                  Eight year old Carole
Carole Landis Clara Ridste Dorothy Ross
Carole (left) with her mother and sister

At San Bernardino high school she tried to start an all female football team but was told it was unladylike. Carole was described as being "boy crazy" and admitted she was always getting crushes on older boys. She hated going to school and often skipped classes. Carole said "I always seemed so much older than the other kids my age - they seemed like tots." She was raised a Catholic and attended church every Sunday. Her philosophy in life was "Pass the good deed along". According to family sources Carole was sexually molested by a relative during her childhood. She entered her first beauty contest when she was just twelve. Carole had a womanly figure and used make-up tricks to look older. She won a talent show at the Fox Theater by singing "Yes Sir That's My Baby" and dancing the Charleston. Carole started taking dance classes and performed with a group of local dancers. When she was a teenager Carole had several part-time jobs including being an usher and a waitress.

Carole Landis Clara Ridste Dorothy RossCarole Landis Dorothy Ross
Carole (front) with her mother and sister Dorothy                                  Carole (left) with her sister Dorothy

Carole Landis Clara Ridste 1923
Carole and her mother Clara in San Bernardino in 1923

Alfred Ridste Sues Charles Fenner 1919Ridste Children In Foster Care 1919Lewis Ridste 1925 Death Article

Carole Landis Junior High School ArticleCarole Landis Junior High School Article

Carole Landis Beauty Contest ArticleCarole Landis Stage Struck Article