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Claudia Dell Smith
January 10, 1910
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
|Died||September 5, 1977 (aged 67)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Phillip G. Offin (m.1928-div.1930)|
Edward Silton (m.1934-div.1947)
Daniel Emmett (m.1947-?)
Dell was born in San Antonio, Texas on January 10, 1910. She attended school in San Antonio and Mexico. Dell was blonde and blue-eyed, with a porcelain face. Her height was 5'5". In Bette Davis's 1962 autobiography The Lonely Life, she makes a passing reference to "Little Claudia Dell", an actress from the 1930s and early 1940s, "whose image," Bette remarks, "was used as Columbia Pictures' signature for years."
After completing her education at home, Dell went to New York City and became an understudy to Irene Delroy in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927. She studied acting in New York City at the Academy and singing at the Juilliard School. Soon she was sent to London to play the lead in the musical comedy Mary Mary. The play's run lasted one year. While in England, scouts from Warner Brothers asked her to come to Hollywood. She returned to New York City with her aunt following a tour of southern Europe. Claudia became homesick, rejected leads offered her in two stage productions, and moved to Los Angeles, where her family lived.
Dell was given a contract by Warner Bros. to star in a number of musical pictures. She played the title role in the lavish musical film Sweet Kitty Bellairs (1930). Her next role was with Al Jolson in Big Boy (1930). In 1930, the public had grown weary of musicals. Warner Brothers, however, had begun to film two other musicals (released in 1931) in which Dell was given a leading role. The first of these was another lavish production titled Fifty Million Frenchmen. In the second film, Sit Tight (1931), she played the love interest of Paul Gregory. Ironically, both pictures had their musical sequences cut before release. Warner Bros. dropped her option in 1931 (along with most of its other musical stars), and Claudia (having become associated with musicals) was relegated to Poverty Row productions.
Dell bounced back at Universal Pictures in Destry Rides Again (1932), which starred cowboy actor Tom Mix. In 1935, she played the heroine in the serial The Lost City. Other 1930s films in which she appeared included Algiers (1938) and We're in the Legion Now! (1936). By the close of the 1930s, she was reduced to playing minor roles, and the 1940s continued her career decline. She was cast in low-budget productions like Black Magic (1944), a Charlie Chan series movie. Also in 1944, she was in "Meeting at Midnight", another Charlie Chan movie. She had a part in Call of the Jungle (1944), a jungle adventure from Monogram Pictures that showcased stripper Ann Corio.
After her film career faltered, Dell was under contract for five years with RKO and did many Lux Radio Theater programs for Cecil B. DeMille and Orson Welles. She had her own television show in New York, titled Leave It to the Girls.
In the early 1970s, Dell had a syndicated radio program that aired in the Midwest titled The Claudia Dell Show. She wrote a syndicated column for eight years, and in 1973, completed a collaboration with English author Helga Moray. This was for a television script considered for the Theater of the Week program.
Dell and Phillip G. Offin married when she was 17. She obtained a divorce from him two years later in 1930. On December 29, 1934, Dell married theatrical agent Edward Silton. She gave her age as 22. They later divorced. She married retired chewing gum manufacturer Daniel Emmett in 1947.
She worked as a receptionist in a beauty shop in Hollywood and made appearances in early television dramas. In 1973, she became the student director of the John Robert Powers School of Charm and Modeling in Sherman Oaks, California and Woodland Hills Promenade. Previously, she worked for 12 years as director of the John Robert Powers School in Beverly Hills, California. Dell said "There is no better work than being able to be associated with a school which helps mold young people for the future and one that gives a whole new dimension to a woman's life."
Dell died in Los Angeles in 1977.
- Montana Moon (1930) - Froggy's Blonde Girlfriend (uncredited)
- Sweet Kitty Bellaire (1930) - Sweet Kitty Bellairs
- Big Boy (1930) - Annabel
- 50 Million Frenchmen (1931) - Lu Lu Carroll
- Set Tight (1931) - Sally
- Bachelor Apartment (1931) - Lita Andrews
- Confessions of a Co-Ed (1931) - Peggy
- Leftover Ladies (1931) - Patricia
- Sporting Chance (1931) - Sally Hamilton
- Scandal for Sale (1932) - Dorothy Pepper
- Destry Rides Again (1932) - Sally Dangerfield
- The Midnight Lady (1932) - Jean Austin
- Hearts of Humanity (1932) - Ruth Sneider
- Midnight Warning (1932) - Enid Van Buren
- Guilty or Not Guilty (1932) - Ruth Payne
- The Woman Who Dared (1933) - Mickey Martin - Factory Owner
- Big Bluff (1933)
- Woman Condemned (1934) - Barbara Hammond
- Cleopatra (1934) - Octavia
- Trails End (1935) - Mrs. Janet Moorehead
- Lady in Scarlet (1935) - Alice Sayre
- Midnight Phantom (1935) - Diana Sullivan
- Speed Limited (1935) - Marjorie
- The Lost City (1935, Serial) - Natcha Manyus (archive footage)
- Ghost Patrol (1936) - Natalie Brent
- Yellow Cargo (1936) - Fay Temple
- What Becomes of the Children? (1936) - Gayle Adams
- We're in the Legion Now! (1936) - Yvonne Cartier
- Boots of Destiny (1937) - Alice Wilson
- A Bride for Henry (1937) - Helen Van Orden
- Algiers (1938) - Marie
- Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
- Juarez and Maximilian (1939) - Agnes Salm (uncredited)
- The Mad Empress (1939) - Agnes Salm (uncredited)
- Sauce for the Gander (1940) - Mrs. Rogers
- Spotlight Serenade (1943) - Betty
- Call of the Jungle (1944) - Gracie
- Black Magic (1944) - Vera Starkey
- "Claudia Dell - The Private Life and Times of Claudia Dell. Claudia Dell Pictures". www.glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com.
- Room, Adrian (2010). Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins, 5th ed. McFarland. p. 139. ISBN 9780786457632. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- "Claudia Dell, Follies Girl, Wins a Divorce". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. Associated Press. June 10, 1930. p. 2. Retrieved January 17, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Young Movie Actress and Theatrical Agent United". The San Bernardino County Sun. California, San Bernardino. United Press. December 30, 1934. p. 4. Retrieved January 17, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Claudia Dell Weds". The Bridgeport Post. Connecticut, Bridgeport. Associated Press. December 15, 1947. p. 19. Retrieved January 17, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
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