Horror Film Pioneer Uttered First Words in 1931 Flick

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Growing Up With Monsters: In her teens, Carla Laemmle appeared as a ballet dancer in the 1925 version of ‘The Phantom of the Opera.

The American Jewish actress Carla Laemmle, who died on June 12 at the age of 104, was long celebrated for her appearances in some early key horror films. Yet her chief role may have been as witness to the benevolence when confronted with real-life historical horrors of her uncle, Universal Pictures studio founder Carl Laemmle.
Of German Jewish origin, Laemmle in her teens appeared as a ballet dancer in the silent film version of The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and later uttered the first words in “Dracula” (1931), as a bespectacled tourist reciting the text of a guidebook, “Among the rugged peaks that frown down upon the Borgo Pass are found crumbling castles of a bygone age.”

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With an eager appetite for life, Laemmle recounted her childhood in a charming short book, “Growing Up With Monsters: My Times at Universal Studios” (2009) and illustrated her longtime companion, the angler Raymond Cannon’s “How to Fish the Pacific Coast: a Manual for Salt Water Fishermen”. In her younger years, she also posed for nude photos, despite her uncle’s disapproval: “They are in very good taste but [Carl Laemmle] frowned on that.”
To his credit, Uncle Carl also frowned on the rise of European Fascism in the 1930s.
Born Karl Lämmle in Laupheim, Germany, the elder Laemmle (1867–1939) personally paid for hundreds of Jews from Laupheim and Württemberg to emigrate from Nazi Germany to the USA, paying all required emigration and immigration fees, thereby saving their lives. Starting in 1934, he constantly contacted American politicians and Secretary of State Cordell Hull, as well as fellow Hollywood movie industry leaders to do the same, mostly to little or no avail.

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