Todd Gault's Movie Serial Experience

Todd Gault's Film Serial Experience: Movie serials, cliffhangers and reviews. A gallery of movie serial stars.
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"Adventures of Frank Merriwell"; Universal, 1936

Carla Laemmle is a hard person to place in the history of film. On the one hand she was a marginal actress who made small appearances in films for no other reason than her uncle, Carl Laemmle, Sr. owned Universal Studios. And today is one of the most valuable resources film scholars have about Universal's history, especially the horror films.

Her first film role was a small part in Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera (1925). This was followed by other appearances in Uncle Tom's Cabin (1927), The Gate Crashers (1928), Broadway Melody (1929), King of Jazz (1930), and her most famous film role as Dwight Frye's annoying fellow passenger at the beginning of Dracula (1931).

Laemmle's only serial was playing one of Jean Roger's college pals in the adaptation of the popular fictional pulp / radio character The Adventures of Frank Merriwell (1936), helping to rescue Frank's kidnapped father and find a buried treasure. Her final film at Universal was On Your Toes (1939).

Jump forward sixty years and Carla Laemmle is suddenly back in the limelight when Universal started releasing it's classic horror films on DVD. She began appearing in the DVD extra documentaries Road to Dracula (1999), Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster (1999), She's Alive! Creating the Bride of Frankenstein (1999), and Opera Ghost: A Phantom Unmasked (2000). This lead to her first true acting job in over sixty years as the undead matriarch in Vampire Hunter's Club (2001). As Don King would say, “Only in America!”

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