Claire Trevor

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Claire Trevor
Claire Trevor-still.jpg
circa 1930s
BornClaire Wemlinger
(1910-03-08)March 8, 1910
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedApril 8, 2000(2000-04-08) (aged 90)
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
Cause of death
respiratory failure
Years active1933–1987
Spouse(s)Clark Andrews (1938-1942)
Cylos William Dunsmoore (1943-1947); 1 son
Milton H. Bren (1948-1979; his death)
ChildrenCharles Dunsmoore Bren (1944-1978)[1]
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Claire Trevor
Claire Trevor-still.jpg
circa 1930s
BornClaire Wemlinger
(1910-03-08)March 8, 1910
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedApril 8, 2000(2000-04-08) (aged 90)
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
Cause of death
respiratory failure
Years active1933–1987
Spouse(s)Clark Andrews (1938-1942)
Cylos William Dunsmoore (1943-1947); 1 son
Milton H. Bren (1948-1979; his death)
ChildrenCharles Dunsmoore Bren (1944-1978)[1]

Claire Trevor (March 8, 1910[2][3] – April 8, 2000) was an American film actress. She was nicknamed the "Queen of Film Noir"[4] because of her many appearances in "bad girl" roles in film noir and other black-and-white thrillers. She appeared in over 60 films. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the hopelessly alcoholic gangster moll in Key Largo and was nominated for her roles in The High and the Mighty and Dead End.

Early life[edit]

Trevor was born as Claire Wemlinger in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York in 1910,[5][6][7] the only child of Noel Wemlinger, a Fifth Avenue merchant tailor, and his wife, Benjamina ("Betty"), and grew up in Larchmont, New York. For many years her year of birth was misreported as 1909, rare instance of an actress actually being younger than her given age, which is why her age at death was initially given as 91, not 90.[8] Her family 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."[9]

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. 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[edit]

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 a son, Charles. 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, her son Charles Dunsmoore Bren died in the crash of PSA Flight 182 in San Diego, followed by the death of her husband Milton Bren 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. Eventually she returned to California, where she remained for the rest of her life, becoming a generous supporter of the arts.[8]


Claire Trevor died of respiratory failure in Newport Beach, April 8, 2000 at age 90. She was survived by her two stepsons and extended family.[8] For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Claire Trevor 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.


1933Jimmy and SallySally Johnson
The Mad GameJane Lee
The Last TrailPatricia Carter
Life in the RawJudy Halloway
1934Elinor NortonElinor Norton
Baby Take a BowKay Ellison
Wild GoldJerry Jordan
Hold That GirlTonie Bellamy
1935Spring TonicBetty Ingals
Black SheepJeanette Foster
My MarriageCarol Barton
Navy WifeVicky Blake
Dante's InfernoBetty McWade
1936Career WomanCarroll Aiken
Star for a NightNina Lind
To Mary - with LoveKitty Brant
Human CargoBonnie Brewster
Song and Dance ManJulia Carroll
15 Maiden LaneJane Martin
1937Big Town GirlFay Loring
Second HoneymoonMarcia
One Mile from HeavenLucy 'Tex' Warren
King of GamblersDixie Moore
Time Out for RomanceBarbara Blanchard
Dead EndFranceyNominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1938Five of a KindChristine Nelson
Valley of the GiantsLee Roberts
Walking Down BroadwayJoan Bradley
The Amazing Dr. ClitterhouseJo Keller
I Stole a MillionLaura Benson
Allegheny UprisingJanie MacDougall
1940Dark CommandMiss Mary Cloud
1941TexasMike King
Honky Tonk'Gold Dust' Nelson
1942The Adventures of Martin EdenConnie Dawson
CrossroadsMichelle Allaine
Street of ChanceRuth Dillon
1943The Woman of the TownDora Hand
Good Luck, Mr. YatesRuth Jones
The DesperadoesCountess Maletta
1944Murder, My SweetMrs. Helen Grayle
1945Johnny AngelLilah 'Lily' Gustafson
1946The Bachelor's DaughtersCynthia
Crack-UpTerry Cordell
1947Born to KillHelen Trent
1948Raw DealPat Cameron
The Velvet TouchMarian Webster
The Babe Ruth StoryClaire (Hodgson) Ruth
Key LargoGaye DawnAcademy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1949The Lucky StiffMarguerite Seaton
1950BorderlineMadeleine Haley, aka Gladys LaRue
1951Best of the BadmenLily
Hard, Fast and BeautifulMillie Farley
1952Stop, You're Killing MeNora Marko
My Man and IMrs. Ansel Ames
Hoodlum EmpireConnie Williams
1953The Stranger Wore a GunJosie Sullivan
1954The High and the MightyMay HolstNominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1955Man Without a StarIdonee
Lucy GallantLady MacBeth
1956The MountainMarie
1958Marjorie MorningstarRose Morgenstern
1962Two Weeks in Another TownClara Kruger
1963The StripperHelen Baird
1965How to Murder Your WifeEdna
1967The Cape Town AffairSam Williams
1982Kiss Me GoodbyeCharlotte Banning
1954The Ford Television TheatreFelicia Crandellepisode: The Summer Memory
Lux Video TheatreEllen Creedepisode: Ladies in Retirement
Nominated— Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Single Performance
General Electric TheaterCora Leslieepisode: Foggy Night
1955Lux Video TheatreMary Scottepisode: No Bad Songs for Me
1956Schlitz Playhouse of StarsMary Hunterepisode: Fool Proof
Producers' ShowcaseFran Dodsworthepisode: Dodsworth
Primetime Emmy Award for Best Single Performance by an Actress
Alfred Hitchcock PresentsMary Prescottepisode: Safe Conduct
1957Playhouse 90Elizabeth Owenepisode: If You Knew Elizabeth
1959Westinghouse Desilu PlayhouseSavannah Brownepisode: Happy Hill
Wagon TrainC.L. Hardingepisode: The C.L. Harding Story
The UntouchablesKate Clark 'Ma' Barkerepisode: Ma Barker and Her Boys
1961The InvestigatorsKitty Harperepisode: New Sound for the Blues
Alfred Hitchcock PresentsMrs. Meadeepisode: A Crime for Mothers
1962Dr. KildareVeronica Johnsonepisode: The Bed I've Made
1983The Love BoatNancy Fairchildepisode: The Misunderstanding/Love Below Decks/The End is Near
1987Murder, She WroteJudith Harlanepisode: Witness for the Defense
Breaking Home TimesGrace Porter(TV film)


  1. ^
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Hagen, Ray; Laura Wagner (2004). Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames. McFarland. p. 222. ISBN 0-7864-1883-4. 
  4. ^ Hoffmann, Henryk. Western Movie References in American Literature, McFarland (2012) p. 218
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "Oscar Winner Claire Trevor Dies". 2000-04-08. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  7. ^ "Claire Trevor profile at". Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  8. ^ a b c "Claire Trevor, 91, Versatile Actress, Dies". New York Times. 2000-04-10. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  9. ^ "About Claire Trevor," Claire Trevor School of the Arts, University of California, Irvine
  10. ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1413. ISBN 0-345-45542-8. 

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