New York, New York
Place of Death
Newport Beach, Ca
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
Profile Bio Text
Trevor was born as Claire Wemlinger in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, the only child of a 5th Avenue merchant-tailor Noel Wemlinger, an immigrant Frenchmen from Paris; who lost his business during the Depression, and his Irish wife Betty, born in Belfast. Trevor`s interest in acting began when she was 11 years old. She attended high school in Mamaroneck, Long Island. After starting classes at Columbia University, she moved on to spent six months at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts also in New York. Her adult acting experience began in the late 1920s in several stock productions. Her professional stage debut came with Robert Henderson`s Repertory Players in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1930. That same year she signed with Warner Bros. Not too far from her home haunts was Brooklyn-based Vitagraph Studios, the last and best of the early sound process studios, which had been acquired by Warner Bros. in 1925 to become Vitaphone. Trevor began appearing in some of its (nearly 2000) short films cranked out by the studio (between 1926 and 1930). Then she was sent west to do ten weeks of stock productions with other contract players in St. Louis. In 1931 she did summer stock with the Hampton Players in Southampton, Long Island. And finally she debuted on Broadway in 1932 in "Whistling in the Dark".
She moved to the feature screen with her debut in the western Life in the Raw (1933). There would be three more films (another western) that year and steady six or more through the 1930s. Though Trevor has been typed for playing gun molls and hard case women of the world, she displayed her already considerable versatility in these early films, as often competent, take-charge professional women as shady ladies. There was a disappointed-pout-vulnerability in her face and that famous-slightly New York burred-voice, that cracked with a little cry when heightened by emotion that quickly revealed an unusual and sensitive performer. Several of her early films were `B` in budget only, working with the likes of Spencer Tracy on several occasions, particularly Dante`s Inferno (1935). The Academy took notice of her standout performance with a supporting actress nomination as the good neighbor girl-to-prostitute opposite gangster Humphrey Bogart in Dead End (1937). That year she did the radio drama "Big Town" with Edward G. Robinson, then teamed with him and Bogart again for the slightly hokey but entertaining The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938). Director John Ford tapped her for his first big sound western hit Stagecoach (1939) with up and coming John Wayne. All her abilities to bring complexity to a character showed in her kicked-around dance hall girl `Dallas`, one of the great early female roles of film. She and the Duke were electric-and they were paired for three more movies during their careers.
Into the 1940s Trevor began moving toward her trademark and always first rate noir personas. She started in a big way as killer Ruth Dillon with Burgess Meredith in Street of Chance (1942). She was equally convincing as the more complex, but nonetheless two-faced, Mrs. Grayle in the Philip Marlowe vehicle Murder, My Sweet (1944). But she was something very different and extraordinary as the washed up, boozy nightclub singer Gaye Dawn in her Oscar-winning performance for Best Actress opposite a great cast headed by Bogart and Robinson, as exiled gangster kingpin Johnny Rocco, in Key Largo (1948). The movie hangs on her wrenching performance of a pathetic rendition of torch song "Moanin` Low" sung in humiliation to gain a desperately wanted drink. There were more quality movies and an additional Academy nomination (The High and the Mighty (1954)) into the 1950s, but Trevor was also doing stage and television as well. In regard to the later she was enthusiastic about live TV playhouse and appeared on several famous shows by the mid-1950s. She won an Emmy for Best Live Television Performance by an Actress as the flighty wife of Fredric March in "Dodsworth" (1956) on the NBC Producer`s Showcase. She continued with some film roles, stage, and also the variety of TV series. Later her roles were more confined to distinguished women and mothers-as varied as Ma Barker (wouldn`t you know it) for the episodic Untouchables (1959) to her final film role as mother of Sally Field in Kiss Me Goodbye (1982).
Having long since moved with third husband producer Milton Bren to Newport Beach, California, Trevor retired from all manner of screen work in 1987 but took a new and most active interest in theater and the arts education. In this she became impressed and associated with The School of Arts at the University of California, Irvine. She and her husband contributed some 10 million dollars to further its development for the visual and performing arts (that included three endowed professorships). After her passing in April 2000 at 91 years old, the University renamed the school The Claire Trevor School of the A
Couple Profile Source
Columbia University, American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York
Full Name at Birth
Has Detailed Data (New)
Claire Trevor  (John Gallagher)
Claire Trevor (born Claire Wemlinger; March 8, 1910 – April 8, 2000) was an American actress.
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