Helen Claire (October 18, 1911 – January 12, 1974)[1] was an actress on Broadway and in old-time radio.

Helen Claire
Helen Claire 1938.jpg
Claire in 1938
BornOctober 18, 1911
DiedJanuary 12, 1974 (aged 62)
Spouse(s)Dr. Milton Smith (1942 - ?)
Parent(s)Col. and Mrs. Henry J. Rosenstihl

Early yearsEdit

Claire was the daughter of Col. and Mrs. Henry J. Rosenstihl.[2] She grew up in Alabama and graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman's College, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa Society.[3] She ventured to New York City and enrolled at Columbia University, from which she obtained a master's degree in psychology.[4] Following graduation from Columbia, she attended Feagin School of Dramatic Art.[3]


Claire's roles in radio programs included those shown in the table below.

Program Character
Backstage Wife Virginia Lansing[5]:57
Bright Horizon Edith Browning[5]
Death Valley Days Jan Thackery[6]
Joyce Jordan, M.D. Joyce Jordan[5]:376
The O'Neills Sally Scott O'Neill[5]:523
Roses and Drums Betty Graham[7]
Stella Dallas Ada Dexter[5]:635
The Story of Bess Johnson Mrs. Jordan[8]

Other programs in which Claire was a member of the cast included Young Widder Brown,[9] Of Great Riches[10] Stories of the Black Chamber,[11] Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories,[12] Hilltop House,[13] Stella Dallas, and Evelyn Winters.[14]

Claire also had a recurring role on Dr. Christian, which annually broadcast several episodes from New York City rather than from its usual Hollywood site. During those times, Claire played nurse Judy Price, replacing Rosemary DeCamp, who portrayed Price in the broadcasts from Hollywood.[15]

Claire also appeared on the radio version of Texaco Star Theatre[16] and on "the Two Stars program over the WJZ network."[17]


Although Claire had been advised seven years earlier "to abandon any idea she might have of becoming an actress" because of her southern accent,[3] a 1938 newspaper article acclaimed Claire as "the first 'discovery' of the new Broadway season" for her work in Kiss the Boys Goodbye.[18] Paul Ross wrote, "When the critical salvos had died down, it was found ... that the unknown from Alabama had risen to stardom over night."[18] In February 1939, another newspaper article reported: "Helen Claire, a few months ago a comparative unknown, is now the toast of Broadway. Hard-boiled New York has so fallen for this real life Cindy Lou [Claire's character in Kiss the Boys Goodbye] that her mornings are filled with interviews, her afternoons with screen tests, guest appearances, dinner parties."[19]

Claire's Broadway debut came in 1932 in Girls in Uniform.[3] She also appeared in Sunny River[20] and Jezebel.[8]


Claire's voice was familiar to moviegoers who were attentive to Movietone News segments that preceded feature films in theaters. Twice a week she provided narration of fashion news segments for those newsreels.[3]


Claire and others from the cast of The Parker Family radio program made an "experimental" broadcast of a TV version of the show on NBC May 9, 1941.[21]

In 1953, Claire, as narrator, received a certificate of merit related to the Sylvania Award "for outstanding individual variety performance on the Ford show" that was won by Mary Martin.[22]

Personal lifeEdit

Claire married Dr. Milton Smith May 22, 1941, in White Plains, New York. He was head of the drama department at Columbia University. They met when she was a student at Columbia and took a drama class to diminish her Southern drawl.[23]


Claire died January 12, 1974, in Birmingham, Alabama.[24]


  1. ^ DeLong, Thomas A. (1996). Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary of 953 Performers, 1920 through 1960. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-2834-2. P. 54.
  2. ^ "Alabama Actress Visits Home State". Alabama, Anniston. The Anniston Star. January 15, 1940. p. 5. Retrieved February 29, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  3. ^ a b c d e "Helen Claire Back North". New York, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. November 19, 1939. p. 31. Retrieved February 27, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  4. ^ "Those Three Cindys". New York, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. April 9, 1939. p. 35. Retrieved February 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  5. ^ a b c d e Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. P. 119.
  6. ^ Small, Florence (February 13, 1950). "The Old and New West Helps Radio Sell for Borax" (PDF). Broadcasting. p. 22. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  7. ^ Goodwin, Betty (May 26, 1935). "Radio Stars Knit Two, Then Purl a Few". California, Oakland. Oakland Tribune. p. 54. Retrieved February 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  8. ^ a b "Radio Star Weds". Pennsylvania, Pottstown. Pottstown Mercury. June 24, 1941. p. 2. Retrieved February 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  9. ^ "Talk of the Trade". Billboard. August 27, 1949. p. 11. Retrieved 1 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Of Great Riches" (PDF). Radio Daily. May 18, 1937. p. 6. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  11. ^ Sinclair, Walter; Connors, James (March 2, 1935). "Heard on th eAir" (PDF). Radio Guide. p. 13. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  12. ^ "This is ... "Aunt Jenny"" (PDF). Radio Guide. August 14, 1937. p. 14. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  13. ^ "'Our Gal Sunday' Star Tells Value of Being 'On the Spot'". Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. Harrisburg Telegraph. October 12, 1940. p. 26. Retrieved February 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  14. ^ Sies, Luther F. (2014). Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960, 2nd Edition, Volume 1. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-5149-4. P. 135.
  15. ^ "Helen Claire Joins Dr. Christian For New York Series". Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. Harrisburg Telegraph. May 18, 1946. p. 19. Retrieved February 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  16. ^ "Star Trio Heads "Theatre" Show". Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. Harrisburg Telegraph. March 23, 1940. p. 21. Retrieved February 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  17. ^ "The Short and Long of Radio". Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. The Evening News. October 30, 1936. p. 24. Retrieved February 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  18. ^ a b Ross, Paul (October 12, 1938). "Southern Girl First "Find" of Season on New York Stage". Maryland, Cumberland. Cumberland Evening Times. p. 7. Retrieved February 27, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  19. ^ "Young Southern Actress Is Now the Toast of Broadway". South Carolina, Greenwood. The Index-Journal. February 26, 1939. p. 2. Retrieved February 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  20. ^ "Helen Claire Subs in "Andrea" Role, Claudia Morgan Ill". Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. Harrisburg Telegraph. January 8, 1944. p. 15. Retrieved February 29, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  21. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7. P. 812.
  22. ^ "Sylvania Award Winners" (PDF). Broadcasting. December 7, 1953. p. 86. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  23. ^ "Admits Marriage". Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Winnipeg Tribune. June 25, 1941. p. 9. Retrieved February 28, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.  
  24. ^ "Actress Dies". Texas, San Antonio. Express and News. January 13, 1974. p. 93. Retrieved February 29, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.