Carla Laemmle: A Living Tie to the World of Silent Film

Lately, we’ve highlighted successful and interesting crowdfunded projects, and given advice for raising votes and pledges for your own crowdfunded projects. We’ve also enjoyed looking back on the world of silent film, but we never expected that those two worlds would intersect.

If you’ve been a long-time reader of the silent film series, you’ve already been introduced to Universal founder Carl Laemmle — specifically, his unique and hyperbolic approach to finding publicity for his stars and films. But you may not know that his niece, former fellow Chicagoan and silent film star Carla Laemmle is still alive, acting and sharing the Universal story.

carl and carla laemmle

Carl and Carla Laemmle

Carla grew up in the midst of legendary actors like Lon Chaney, in the heart of Culver City. Yes, she was Carl’s niece, but she was an actress in her own right — appearing in films like “The Phantom of the Opera” and the classic “Dracula.” At 103, Carla has become one of the few living links to the silent film era and her family is using Indiegogo and social media to celebrate that fact.

In celebration of Carla’s 103rd birthday, her grand niece and great grand niece launched an Indiegogo campaign to throw a very special birthday party highlighting Carla’s incredible career. Of course, the campaign wouldn’t be a true Indiegogo campaign if it didn’t include some impressive perks. A contribution at the highest pledge level earned contributors a ticket to the party itself, but even contributors at lower levels still walked away with an official invitation, framed posters and photos or a picture of Carla on her big day.

Although the project didn’t reach its goal of $5,000, Carla’s family was still able to throw an impressive party, including an appearance from Ron Chaney, son of Lon Chaney Jr. and grandson of Lon Chaney Sr. You can explore photos from the event courtesy of FJT Photography on Flickr.

carla laemmle

In addition, Carla has become one of the oldest Internet users to embrace social media. With the help of her family, she has found herself on Twitter and Facebook. And as Carla and her family begin their campaign to get her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, don’t be surprised if you start seeing more of the Laemmles on Indiegogo and social networks in the future.

You can learn more about the man behind Universal, Carl Laemmle, here, and find out more about the world of silent film by checking out the rest of our silent film series.

Want to dive deeper into the world of silent film? Keep up with my posts over on Curtains or on Chicago Nitrate.

carl laemmle universal