Trevor in the 1930s.
March 8, 1910
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||April 8, 2000
Newport Beach, California, U.S.
Cylos William Dunsmoore
Milton H. Bren
(1948–1979; his death)
Trevor was nicknamed the "Queen of Film Noir" because of her many appearances in "bad girl" roles in film noir and other black-and-white thrillers. She appeared in over 60 films, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Key Largo, and earning nominations for her roles in The High and the Mighty and Dead End. She also had a major (and top-billed) role in Stagecoach.
Trevor was born in the Bensonhurst area of Brooklyn, New York, the only child of Noel Wemlinger, a Fifth Avenue merchant tailor, and his wife, Benjamina ("Betty"). She grew up 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 death was initially given as 91 and not 90. She was of German, Irish, and French descent.
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."
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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 her only child, 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, Trevor's son Charles died in the crash of PSA Flight 182, 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 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.
|1933||Jimmy and Sally||Sally Johnson|
|The Mad Game||Jane Lee|
|The Last Trail||Patricia Carter|
|Life in the Raw||Judy Halloway|
|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|
|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||(TV film)|
- 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.
- "Oscar Winner Claire Trevor Dies". highbeam.com. 2000-04-08. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
- "Claire Trevor profile at FilmReference.com". filmreference.com. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
- Hoffmann, Henryk. Western Movie References in American Literature, McFarland (2012) p. 218
- "Claire Trevor, 91, Versatile Actress, Dies". New York Times. 2000-04-10. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
- "About Claire Trevor," Claire Trevor School of the Arts, University of California, Irvine
- "Friday's Highlights" (PDF). Radio and Television Mirror 14 (3): 52. July 1940. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
- The Complete Directory to Prime Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1413. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Claire Trevor.|
- Claire Trevor at the Internet Movie Database
- 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 (photo)