Claire Trevor (née Wemlinger; March 8, 1910 – April 8, 2000) was an American actress. She appeared in 68 feature films from 1933 to 1982, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Key Largo (1948), and received nominations for her roles in The High and the Mighty (1954) and Dead End (1937). Trevor was billed first for Stagecoach (1939); her profile was higher than John Wayne's at the time.
Trevor was born in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, the only child of Noel Wemlinger, a Fifth Avenue merchant tailor (of French birth but German ancestry), and his wife, Benjamina ("Betty"), who was of Irish birth. She was raised in New York City, and from 1923, 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 the time of her death was initially given as 91, not 90.
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...[She] often played the hard-boiled blonde, and every conceivable type of 'bad girl' role."
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. She made her stage debut in the summer of 1929 with a repertory company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She subsequently returned to New York, where she appeared in a number of Brooklyn-filmed Vitaphone short films and performed in summer stock theatre. In 1932, she starred on Broadway as the female lead in Whistling in the Dark.
Trevor made her film debut in Jimmy and Sally (1933), a film originally written for the popular screen duo of James Dunn and Sally Eilers. When Eilers declined the role, Trevors was cast in her place. From 1933 to 1938, 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 Sidney) in Dead End, with Humphrey Bogart, which led to her nomination for Best Supporting Actress. From 1937 to 1940, 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. In 1939, she was well established as a solid leading lady. Some of her more memorable performances during this period include the Western Stagecoach (1939).
Two of Trevor's most memorable roles were opposite Dick Powell in Murder, My Sweet (1944) and with Lawrence Tierney in Born to Kill (1947). In Key Largo (1948), Trevor played Gaye Dawn, the washed-up nightclub singer and gangster's moll. For that role, she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her third and final Oscar nomination was for her performance in The High and the Mighty (1954). In 1957, she won an Emmy for her role in the Producers' Showcase episode entitled "Dodsworth". Trevor moved into supporting roles in the 1950s, with her appearances becoming very rare after the mid-1960s. She played Charlotte, the mother of Kay (Sally Field) in Kiss Me Goodbye (1982). Her final television role was for the 1987 television film, Norman Rockwell's Breaking Home Ties. Trevor made a guest appearance at the 70th Academy Awards in 1998.
Trevor married Clark Andrews, director of her radio show, in 1938; they divorced four years later. She married Navy Lieutenant Cylos William Dunsmore in 1943. Their son Charles was her only child. The couple divorced 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, and this was 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.
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. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard.
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, next to the Claire Trevor Theatre.
|1933||Life in the Raw||Judy Halloway||Film debut|
|Jimmy and Sally||Sally Johnson|
|The Mad Game||Jane Lee|
|The Last Trail||Patricia Carter|
|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|
|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|
|I Stole a Million||Laura Benson|
|Allegheny Uprising||Janie MacDougall|
|1940||Dark Command||Miss Mary Cloud|
|Honky Tonk||'Gold Dust' Nelson|
|1942||The Adventures of Martin Eden||Connie Dawson|
|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|
|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|
|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||(Final film role)|
|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||Television film|
|1946||Reader's Digest -- Radio Edition||Two for a Penny|
|1949||Suspense||"The Light Switch"|
|1952||Hollywood Star Playhouse||Father's Day|
- Drew, William M. (1999). At the Center of the Frame: Leading Ladies of the Twenties and Thirties. Vestal Press. p. 319. ISBN 1-879511-42-8.; Hagen, Ray; Laura Wagner (2004). Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames. McFarland. p. 222. ISBN 0-7864-1883-4.; 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.; "Actress Trevor dies at 90". The Charleston Gazette Associated Press. April 9, 2000. Archived from the original on August 5, 2017. Retrieved August 4, 2017.; "Claire Trevor biography". filmreference.com. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- "Claire Trevor". IMDb.com.
- Sculthorpe, Derek (2018). Claire Trevor: The Life and Films of the Queen of Noir. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 3. ISBN 9781476630694.
- Aronson, Steven M. L. (April 1992). "Claire Trevor's Glamorous Fifth Avenue Apartment". Architectural Digest. Retrieved March 9, 2017.
- "Claire Trevor, 91, Versatile Actress, Dies". The New York Times. April 10, 2000. Retrieved February 20, 2009.
- "About Claire Trevor". Claire Trevor School of the Arts University of California, Irvine. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- Adams, Marjory (October 2, 1933). "Movie Facts and Fancies". The Boston Globe. p. 15 – via Newspapers.com.
- Sculthorpe, Derek (2018). Claire Trevor: The Life and Films of the Queen of Noir. McFarland. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-476-63069-4.
- "Friday's Highlights" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror. 14 (3): 52. July 1940. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
- The Complete Directory to Prime Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1413. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
- "Claire Trevor". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- Critchlow, Donald T. (October 21, 2013). When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics. ISBN 9781107650282.
- "Claire Trevor". Hollywood Walk of Fame. October 25, 2019. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
- "Suspence - The Plan". escape-suspense.com. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- "'Digest' Star". Harrisburg Telegraph. October 26, 1946. p. 21. Retrieved September 29, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Suspence - The Light Switch". escape-suspense.com. Retrieved August 4, 2017.
- Kirby, Walter (March 2, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved May 28, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Claire Trevor.|
- Claire Trevor at IMDb
- 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 Charles (photo)