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Claire Trevor

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Title: Claire Trevor  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Stagecoach (1939 film), Marjorie Morningstar (film), Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Murder, My Sweet, The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse
Collection: 1910 Births, 2000 Deaths, 20Th-Century American Actresses, Actresses from New York, American Film Actresses, American People of German Descent, American Stage Actresses, American Television Actresses, Best Supporting Actress Academy Award Winners, Deaths from Respiratory Failure, Disease-Related Deaths in California, Outstanding Performance by a Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie Primetime Emmy Award Winners, People from Brooklyn, People from Larchmont, New York
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Claire Trevor

Claire Trevor
Trevor in the 1930s.
Born Claire Wemlinger
(1910-03-08)March 8, 1910
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died April 8, 2000(2000-04-08) (aged 90)
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress, Singer
Years active 1933–1987
Spouse(s) Clark Andrews
(1938–1942; divorced)
Cylos William Dunsmoore
(1943–1947; divorced)
Milton H. Bren
(1948–1979; his death)
Children 1

Claire Trevor (born Claire Wemlinger; March 8, 1910[1][2][3][4][5] – April 8, 2000) was an American actress.

Trevor was nicknamed the "Queen of Film Noir"[6] because of her many appearances in "bad girl" roles in film noir and other black-and-white thrillers. She appeared in over 60 films, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Key Largo, and earning nominations for her roles in The High and the Mighty and Dead End. She also received top-billing in Stagecoach.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Death 4
  • Legacy 5
  • Filmography 6
  • Radio appearances 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Trevor was born in the Bensonhurst area of Brooklyn, New York, the only child of Noel Wemlinger, a Fifth Avenue merchant tailor, and his wife, Benjamina ("Betty"). She grew up in Larchmont, New York. For many years, her year of birth was misreported as 1909, a rare instance of an actress actually being younger than her given age, which is why her age at death was initially given as 91 and not 90.[7] She was of German, Irish and French descent.


With Fred MacMurray (r.) in Borderline (1950)

According to her biography on the website of Claire Trevor School of the Arts, "Trevor's acting career spanned more than seven decades and included successes in stage, radio, television and film. . . . [S]he often played the hard-boiled blonde, and every conceivable type of 'bad girl' role."[8]

After completing high school, Trevor began her career with six months of art classes at Columbia University and six months at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, performing in stock in the late 1920s . By 1932 she was starring on Broadway; that same year she began appearing in Brooklyn-filmed Vitaphone shorts. Her first credited film role was in the 1933 film Life in the Raw, with her feature film debut coming that same year in Jimmy and Sally (1933) as "Sally Johnson".

From 1933–38, Trevor starred in 29 films, often having either the lead role or the role of heroine. In 1937, she was the second lead actress (after top-billed Sylvia Sydney) in Dead End, playing opposite Humphrey Bogart, which led to her nomination for Best Supporting Actress. From 1937–40, she appeared with Edward G. Robinson in the popular radio series Big Town, while continuing to make movies. In the early 1940s, she also was a regular on The Old Gold Don Ameche Show on the NBC Red radio network, starring with Ameche in presentations of plays by Mark Hellinger.[9]

By 1939, she was well established as a solid "leading lady". Some of her most memorable performances during this period were opposite John Wayne, including the classic 1939 western Stagecoach, which was Wayne's breakthrough role. She starred opposite Wayne again in Allegheny Uprising that same year, and yet again in 1940 in Dark Command. Over a decade later, she would again costar with Wayne, gaining her final Oscar nomination for The High and the Mighty.

In The High and the Mighty (1954), which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress

Two of Trevor's most memorable roles were opposite Dick Powell in Murder, My Sweet and with Lawrence Tierney in Born to Kill, in the latter playing a divorcee who gets more than she bargained for by falling in love with a bad boy who impulsively commits a murder. Key Largo, the following year, gave Trevor the role of Gaye Dawn, the washed-up nightclub singer and gangster's moll, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

In 1957 she won an Emmy for her role in the Producers' Showcase episode entitled Dodsworth.[10] Trevor moved into supporting roles in the 1950s, with her appearances becoming increasingly rare after the mid-1960s. She returned for one final theatrical film, as Charlotte in Kiss Me Goodbye (1982). Her last film was the 1987 television movie Norman Rockwell's Breaking Home Ties. Trevor made a guest appearance at the 70th Academy Awards in 1998.

Personal life

Trevor married Clark Andrews, director of her radio show, in 1938, but they divorced four years later. Her second marriage, in 1943, to Navy lieutenant Cylos William Dunsmoore, produced her only child, son Charles.[11] The marriage ended in divorce in 1947. The next year, Trevor married Milton Bren, a film producer with two sons from a previous marriage, and moved to Newport Beach, California.

In 1978, Trevor's son Charles died in the crash of PSA Flight 182, followed by the death of her husband Milton from a brain tumor in 1979. Devastated by these losses, she returned to Manhattan for some years, living in a Fifth Avenue apartment and taking a few acting roles amid a busy social life. She eventually returned to California, where she remained for the rest of her life, becoming a generous supporter of the arts.[7]


Trevor died of respiratory failure in Newport Beach, California on April 8, 2000 at the age of 90. She was survived by her two stepsons and extended family.[7] For her contribution to the motion picture industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6933 Hollywood Blvd.


The Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine was named in Trevor's honor. Her Oscar and Emmy statuettes are on display in the Arts Plaza there, next to the Claire Trevor Theatre.


Year Film Role Notes
1933 Jimmy and Sally Sally Johnson
The Mad Game Jane Lee
The Last Trail Patricia Carter
Life in the Raw Judy Halloway
1934 Elinor Norton Elinor Norton
Baby Take a Bow Kay Ellison
Wild Gold Jerry Jordan
Hold That Girl Tonie Bellamy
1935 Spring Tonic Betty Ingals
Black Sheep Jeanette Foster
My Marriage Carol Barton
Navy Wife Vicky Blake
Dante's Inferno Betty McWade
1936 Career Woman Carroll Aiken
Star for a Night Nina Lind
To Mary - with Love Kitty Brant
Human Cargo Bonnie Brewster
Song and Dance Man Julia Carroll
15 Maiden Lane Jane Martin
1937 Big Town Girl Fay Loring
Second Honeymoon Marcia
One Mile from Heaven Lucy 'Tex' Warren
King of Gamblers Dixie Moore
Time Out for Romance Barbara Blanchard
Dead End Francey Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1938 Five of a Kind Christine Nelson
Valley of the Giants Lee Roberts
Walking Down Broadway Joan Bradley
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse Jo Keller
1939 Stagecoach Dallas
I Stole a Million Laura Benson
Allegheny Uprising Janie MacDougall
1940 Dark Command Miss Mary Cloud
1941 Texas 'Mike' King
Honky Tonk 'Gold Dust' Nelson
1942 The Adventures of Martin Eden Connie Dawson
Crossroads Michelle Allaine
Street of Chance Ruth Dillon
1943 The Woman of the Town Dora Hand
Good Luck, Mr. Yates Ruth Jones
The Desperadoes Countess Maletta
1944 Murder, My Sweet Mrs. Helen Grayle
1945 Johnny Angel Lilah 'Lily' Gustafson
1946 The Bachelor's Daughters Cynthia
Crack-Up Terry Cordell
1947 Born to Kill Helen Trent
1948 Raw Deal Pat Cameron
The Velvet Touch Marian Webster
The Babe Ruth Story Claire (Hodgson) Ruth
Key Largo Gaye Dawn Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1949 The Lucky Stiff Marguerite Seaton
1950 Borderline Madeleine Haley, aka Gladys LaRue
1951 Best of the Badmen Lily
Hard, Fast and Beautiful Millie Farley
1952 Stop, You're Killing Me Nora Marko
My Man and I Mrs. Ansel Ames
Hoodlum Empire Connie Williams
1953 The Stranger Wore a Gun Josie Sullivan
1954 The High and the Mighty May Holst Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1955 Man Without a Star Idonee
Lucy Gallant Lady MacBeth
1956 The Mountain Marie
1958 Marjorie Morningstar Rose Morgenstern
1962 Two Weeks in Another Town Clara Kruger
1963 The Stripper Helen Baird
1965 How to Murder Your Wife Edna
1967 The Cape Town Affair Sam Williams
1982 Kiss Me Goodbye Charlotte Banning
Year Title Role Notes
1954 The Ford Television Theatre Felicia Crandell episode: The Summer Memory
Lux Video Theatre Ellen Creed episode: Ladies in Retirement
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Single Performance
General Electric Theater Cora Leslie episode: Foggy Night
1955 Lux Video Theatre Mary Scott episode: No Bad Songs for Me
1956 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Mary Hunter episode: Fool Proof
Producers' Showcase Fran Dodsworth episode: Dodsworth
Primetime Emmy Award for Best Single Performance by an Actress
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Mary Prescott episode: Safe Conduct
1957 Playhouse 90 Elizabeth Owen episode: If You Knew Elizabeth
1959 Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Savannah Brown episode: Happy Hill
Wagon Train C.L. Harding episode: The C.L. Harding Story
The Untouchables Kate Clark 'Ma' Barker episode: Ma Barker and Her Boys
1961 The Investigators Kitty Harper episode: New Sound for the Blues
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Mrs. Meade episode: A Crime for Mothers
1962 Dr. Kildare Veronica Johnson episode: The Bed I've Made
1983 The Love Boat Nancy Fairchild episode: The Misunderstanding/Love Below Decks/The End is Near
1987 Murder, She Wrote Judith Harlan episode: Witness for the Defense
Breaking Home Times Grace Porter (TV film)

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1946 Reader's Digest -- Radio Edition Two for a Penny[12]
1952 Hollywood Star Playhouse Father's Day[13]


  1. ^ Drew, William M. (1999). At the Center of the Frame: Leading Ladies of the Twenties and Thirties. Vestal Press. p. 319.  
  2. ^ Hagen, Ray; Laura Wagner (2004). Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames. McFarland. p. 222.  
  3. ^ Clara Wenlinger [sic], daughter of Noel and Benjamina, age 2 mos, is in the April 1910 Census of Brooklyn Ward 30, District 1054. This places her birth unambiguously in 1910.
  4. ^ "Oscar Winner Claire Trevor Dies". 2000-04-08. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  5. ^ "Claire Trevor profile at". Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  6. ^ Hoffmann, Henryk. Western Movie References in American Literature, McFarland (2012) p. 218
  7. ^ a b c "Claire Trevor, 91, Versatile Actress, Dies". New York Times. 2000-04-10. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  8. ^ "About Claire Trevor," Claire Trevor School of the Arts, University of California, Irvine
  9. ^ "Friday's Highlights" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror 14 (3): 52. July 1940. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  10. ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1413.  
  11. ^
  12. ^ Digest' Star"'". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 26, 1946. p. 21. Retrieved September 29, 2015 – via  
  13. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 2, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved May 28, 2015 – via  

External links

  • Claire Trevor at the Internet Movie Database
  • Claire Trevor at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Claire Trevor School of the Arts
  • Photos of Claire Trevor in 'Stagecoach' by Ned Scott
  • Photographs of Claire Trevor
  • Guide to the Claire Trevor Memorabilia. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California.
  • Claire Trevor and her young son (photo)
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