Here is another actress who actually did not have it all too bad. Obscure today, yes, but still she is a part of history at Warner Bros, as she did appear in some of their prestigious movies. Lucia had the right equipment for such a “rough and tough” studio that thrived on “manly” movies – with a strong, robust look, reminiscent of Joan Blondell, she was far from the winsome, petite girls like Martha Vickers who were better suited for the gentler and fairer MGM. Used better, she could have been a good femme fatale in film noir, as she certainty had the smoky looks and a throaty voice.
She also had some Broadway credit.
Lucia Carroll was born as Lucia Edith La Certe on November 16, 1916, in Wausau, Wisconsin, to Wilbert La Certe and Iva Roberts. Her younger brothers were Raoul, born in 1919 and Armand, born in 1922.
Her father was a successful commercial photographer, and the young Lucia posed for him almost from childhood, partially preparing her for her future vocation of modeling and acting. The two even toured Europe with the dad taking pictures and Lucia posing.
She graduated from Wausau High School (where she was an active sports girl, doing basketball, baseball and swimming) and later attended Mount Mary College in Milwaukee for one year before deciding that academics were not her forte, and moving to New York to become a John Powers model. While there, she got married and divorced to an unknown man. She was obviously well off, as she took two trips to Hawaii in 1939 alone. In 1940, she was summoned by talent scouts to Hollywood.
Lucia was under contract with Warner Brothers, who changed her name to Lucia Carroll due to her ancestral ties to John Carroll, one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence. As most other starlets, she went through a grooming period and was shamelessly used as a publicity magnet. Typical gimmicks she had to “endure” were numerous and silly.
She was under contract from 1940s until 1942, and made most of her film career then, making appearances in about 23 movies. Only 7 of these were not uncredited, and all of theose (except one) are Warner’s B programmers that they filmed like clockwork and made a dime a dozen between the prestigious A class productions. She had more prominent roles in such B productions: Kisses for Breakfast The Nurse’s Secret , A Shot in the Dark , Here Comes Happiness. These movies actually often have a good, solid cast and even sometimes a decent plot, but mostly did nothing for the careers of those involved, except maybe for the leads, which Lucia never was.
Arguably, her moment of fame came in Manpower, a hard boiled film noir with the alluring Marlene Dietrich, where the plays Flo, one of the girls that work in the same joint as Marlene. An impressive movie to be in, the small role is not enough to thrive you career on. Then, in 1941, Lucia got married and things shifted a bit.
It was more by necessity than by choice that Lucia slowed her career down after her marriage. There were talks of her starring in some new movies (Saratoga Trunk and so on), but noting much happened. Obviously willing to work and seeing acting as something more than a fun hobby, she departed for the greener fields, Broadway, and appeared in “The Bride School” along with some other luscious ladies. While she was there, she acquired a crazy stalker who broke into her hotel room and only stole several items of sentimental value (I wonder how this ended, no info about that). Sadly, after about four months on the show, she had to return to Los Angeles as her husband was ailing.
Lucia returned to the theater later, in 1949, as Sylvia in a stage production of Claire Booth Luce‘s “The Women” opposite Eve McVeagh. The reviews were fair, but this seems to have bee her last foray into the stage.
She had another r career resurgence in the 1950s, when she worked steadily for a few years in television, then a budding medium. Sadly, all of the roles were guest ones, meaning she had no constant employment, and none of the TV series she appeared in are rerun o today’s cable networks, and her work is not accessible. After 1955, she has no further credits.
A real pity. As I already noted, Lucia actually seems like the type who cared more about acting than most women who just saw movies as a stepping stones to a good marriage and life of leisure. Hollywood did not give her enough chances, and perhaps she did not use them wisely enough.
While still Lucia Lacerte, thus before she was signed by Warner Bros, she dated Count Rossi, a wealthy Italian heir to a vermouth fortune. Sadly, he was ditched for an actor whom Lucia frequently visited on the East Coast.
The reason why she flew all the time from Los Angeles to New York and back was Broderick Crawford, then a hit on Broadway in “Of Mice and Men“. Crawford was a fine actor and (a future) Oscar winner, but also a chronic drunkard. The two did not marry, and both went on to have Hollywood careers, his more successful than hers at any rate. Lucia did marry to somebody prior to 1940, but I have no information about who that someone is.
After getting a new name and contract, Lucia was the obligatory newspaper fodder for Warner Bros, along with other starlets of the day (Peggy Diggins, Mildred Coles, Joan Leslie and so on), often appearing in publicity stunts. She was “Glamour girl of 1940”, “Star of Tomorrow” and similar things.
Her next beau was the actor Tom Neal, whom she dated for about four months in late 1940. He would later gain fame as Franchot Tone’s rival for the hand of the lovely Barbare Payton. Next came Johnny Meyer and Vic Orsatti, both womanizers who dated up tons of girls annually. Handsome Leif Ericson was also smitten with Lucia, and called often from New York. She then started dating Al Jolson, the famous actor/singer, in early 1941. They dated until cca. april 1941 when she hooked up with her future husband, Carl Schroeder. However, this did not stop her from dating on the side: writer John McClain and Roy Harris were the newest additions to her long list of admirers. Lucia gained a nasty three inch scar on her leg about this time when she fell off a scooter on the studio lot. It was also revealed she once earned a Red Cross for a life saving (no more info was given).
Schroeder was born as Carl Augustus Schroeder on October 31, 1908 in Minnesota, and had been living and working as a magazine editor at Triangle Publishing in Los Angeles for several years. After a relatively brief courtship, the two were wed on October 7 1941, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Their son, Stephen Leslie Schroeder, was born on June 26, 1942 in Los Angeles.
The marriage lasted until 1948. As a total contract to the usual divorce stories, where husband meets another wife, divorces his own and marries her (or does not) , the principal culprit in Lucia’s case was Victor Mature, Victor was Carl’s good friend, and perhaps a “too good” of a friend. Lucia testified how he would depart from the family home any time that Victor would call, even for Christmas and other holidays. He complained about household bills but tough nothing of taking a quick trip to New York whenever he felt like it with Vic.
Lucia won the divorce, custody over their son, 100$ a month for his support and 2500$ in a property settlement. By the time this was all over, her career was also kaput, and her appearances in newspapers were dramatically reduced. Schroeder married Lorraine Joan Wimmer in 1951.
In 1958, she was dating Brod Crawford again, after 20 years apart. And yet again, this did not lead to marriage, as Brod married another starlet, Joan Tabor, in 1962.
Lucia drops off the map after this, and I found no traces of her remarriage or death. It is possible that she is still alive at the age of 97 (I highly doubt it, but it is possible). If this is true, we can be satisfied we have another classic Hollywood survivor who lived the high life when it it really counted.