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Alan Ladd Died from Combination of Alcohol and Medication

Feb. 4, 1964 - Movie star Alan Ladd died accidentally from the combined effects of alcohol and medicine, Riverside County Coroner James Bird said yesterday in Palm Springs, Calif. His report on the 50-year-old actor’s death Jan. 29 said: “The case will be signed out as an accidental death. The combination of alcohol, Seconal, Librium, and promazine produced together the total effects the depressants had on the central nervous system, with the high level of alcohol being the major factor.” The cause of death was cerebral edema — swelling of the brain by excess fluids — due to the effects of the depressants on the central nervous system, Bird said.

The report said that only minimal doses of the medicines were found during the lab tests conducted by the pathologist, Dr. Renee Modglin. Bird said the combination of the three pharmaceuticals with alcohol produces severe effects, but that none by itself could have caused death in the amounts found. Seconal is a sleep-inducer, Librium is a tranquilizer, and promazine is used to control the central nervous system and prevent delirium tremens. Ladd’s physician, Dr. Joseph Sage, said he gave the actor only promazine and vitamins. Investigators said the Seconal and Librium were in the house.

Ladd, who rose from a studio carpenter to stardom, was found dead in bed in his Palm Springs home.


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