Anna Laughlin & Her Tragic Suicide

Anna Laughlin

Anna Laughlin was a stage star who is best remembered for being the first actress to play Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz

She was born Anna Stapleton Laughlin on October 11, 1883 in Sacramento, California. When she was six years old she started performing in vaudeville. Anna quickly became known as a talented child elocutionist. Her nickname was "Wee Little Anna". She made her Broadway debut in the 1900 musical The Belle of Bohemia. In 1902 the eighteen year old was cast as Dorothy Gale in the first stage production of The Wizard Of Oz. The show became a huge hit and ran on Broadway for two years. On July 12, 1904 she married Dwight "Van" Monroe, a New York diamond merchant. Their daughter Lucy was born in 1906. The following year she returned to Broadway to star in the musical The Top O' The World. Then she starred in a solo variety show. Critics praised her beauty and her artistic singing. Anna was signed by Reliance films in 1913 and given a starring role in The Rebellious Pupil. She appeared in more than a dozen films including The Janitor, The Greyhound, and The Crown Prince's Double.

Anna LaughlinAnna Laughlin

Although she was in her thirties she often played teenagers due to her youthful appearance. In 1915 she decided to quit show business so she could dedicate herself to raising her daughter. Tragically in January of 1921 her husband Van died following an appendicitis operation. During the early 1930s her daughter Lucy Monroe became a popular radio singer. She had guided Lucy's career and the two women were extremely close. They even performed together on stage in 1935. Sadly by 1937 they were estranged and Anna fell into a deep depression. On April 5, 1937 she committed suicide in her apartment by turning on the gas. Anna was only fifty-three years old. Her three page suicide note said "This is good-bye. People are dreadful. I love my child. I have given all I have in the world to put her where she is now ... Lucy is never coming back. I am so afraid. Where did I fail?" She was buried next to her husband at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York.

Anna LaughlinAnna Laughlin In The Wizard Of Oz

Anna Laughlin Lucy Monroe