Monday, June 2, 2014

Rising Hollywood Screen Star Claims LaValle as his Birthplace

Seventy-five years ago on June 1, 1939, the Reedsburg Free Press had the headline, “Rising Hollywood Screen Star Claims LaValle as his Birthplace.”  The article read, “In the Sunday papers appeared a picture of a young man who was called “a new Hollywood actor,” and who said he was a native of LaValle, Sauk County, Wisconsin. The name John Laird made but little impression upon the LaValle community and many wondered just who this handsome John Laird could be who claimed to be a native of their village. H.A. Blank, the druggist, was the man who remembered the Lairds and recalled for the villagers just who the family was. According to Mr. Bank’s story, the Lairds, a Mr. and Mrs. Jim Laird, came to LaValle around about 1912, and lived in a house just back of the one Mr. Blank was living in at the time. Jim Laird was a short, small Irishman, with a fiery temper. He was a tinsmith by trade. Mrs. Laird was a tall, very beautiful woman. Mr. Laird’s father, a retired railroad worker, was a frequent visitor at LaValle. The Lairds had lived in LaValle but a short time when John was born. He was their first child, and as far as Mr. Blank knows, the only child. “Doc” Miller played stork at the event. When the baby was about four months old, the Lairds moved away, not to be heard of again, until the picture of John appeared in the screen section of a Sunday paper, along with the story of his rising success in films.  John Laird had his first role in “Sorority House,” an RKO picture. He attended Lake Forest College and went into stock in the east. A talent scout saw him in a Broadway show, “Where Do We Go From Here,” and hired him for pictures.” 

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