San Francisco & Hollywood

Carole Landis 1935

"Of all the decisions I've made in my career, making up my mind to come to Hollywood in the first place was the one unqualified good decision" ~ Carole

When Carole was sixteen years old she dropped out of high school so she could pursue her dream of becoming a singer. She said "Although I avoided dramatics - and everything else - in school. I wanted to be a success on the stage, the screen, or the radio. So I saved my money and when I had bus fare and $16.82 over, I told my mother Clara I was going to leave home. She was heartbroken, but she believed in me." Carole left San Bernardino and took a bus to San Francisco in the Spring of 1935. She went from one nightclub to another looking for a job. After a few weeks she was hired to dance at the popular Royal Hawaiian nightclub on Bush Street. In an interview she said "The manager of the Royal Hawaiian club in San Francisco was interviewing girls to sing and dance in the floor show and when he asked me if I could sing and dance I blithely said 'Of course, I'm great!' when actually I was a greenhorn at both. Luckily the chorus was learning a new hula routine and in the resultant confusion no one noticed I didn't know my right foot from my left.".

Carole Landis Royal Hawaiian CostumeRoyal Hawaiian
Carole at the Royal Hawaiian

Sixteen Year Old Carole Landis
Carole in 1935

 At the Royal Hawaiian she wore a skimpy hula outfit and performed three shows a night. Carole earned $40 a week and lived in a tiny apartment above the club. She worked there until she found a full-time singing job. Almost all of her biographies claim that she sang with Carl Ravazza's band but this is incorrect. Although she auditioned to sing with Ravazza he didn't hire her. Instead he helped her get a job singing at the Rio Del Mar nightclub. Carole would later tell people that Carl Ravazza discovered her as a way to thank him. While living in San Francisco she spent her evenings performing on stage and went to the beach every afternoon. She said "I sang twice a night and slept the rest of the time when I wasn't lying on the beach. If I make a million bucks a week in pictures I still wouldn't have a better life than that." It was during this time that she began using "Carole Landis" as her professional name. She said "One day I just sat down and wrote 200 names and I decided that Carole Landis was the best of them."

Carole Landis Carl Ravazza ClippingEighteen Year Old Carole Landis
                                                                        Eighteen year old Carole

Carole Landis 1935
Carole in 1935

There have been rumors that Carole worked as a prostitute in San Francisco. We know these stories are NOT TRUE because she always had a steady job when she lived there. Carole even kept her old wedding ring on so men wouldn't bother her. These malicious rumors haunted her throughout her life. We believe they were started by actresses who were jealous of her success. In the Fall of 1936 she quit her singing job at the Rio Del Mar and went to Hollywood to become an actress. She was signed by Ken Dolan, Frances Langford's manager. One of her first jobs was being an extra in the MGM film The Emperor's Candlesticks. Then she had bit parts in A Day At The Races and The King And The Chorus Girl. Carole had a group of close friends that included actor Lyle Talbot and make-up artist Evelyn O'Brien. She moved into a modest apartment at 1933 North Bronson Avenue in 1937. Her mother Clara, who had recently divorced her third husband, moved in with her.

Carole Landis Lyle Talbot Evelyn O'Brien
Carole with Lyle Talbot, and Evelyn O'Brien

Carole Landis Lyle TalbotCarole Landis
Carole with her friends (she wrote this description)                                     On the MGM lot in 1937