Claire Adams

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Claire Adams
CLAIRE ADAMS From Famous Film Folk.jpg
Adams in 1925
Beryl Vere Nassau Adams

(1898-09-24)24 September 1898
Died25 September 1978(1978-09-25) (aged 80)
Years active1912-1963
Benjamin B. Hampton
(m. 1924; died 1932)

Donald John Scobie Mackinnon
(m. 1932; died 1974)

Claire Adams (born Beryl Vere Nassau Adams, 24 September 1898 – 25 September 1978) was a silent film actress and benefactor. She was born in Canada, studied there and in England, and developed a movie career in Hollywood, marrying a producer.

Early years[edit]

Beryl Vere Nassau Adams was born on 24 September 1898, in Winnipeg, Manitoba,[1] the daughter of Stanley Wells Adams, a Welsh-born accountant, and his Canadian wife, Lillian Adams (née Kennedy).[2] Educated in Canada and England,[1] her parents divorced when Adams was a child, but the family was reunited two decades later when Adams and her mother went to live with Adams' father and her stepmother.[2]

Adams worked briefly as a nurse with the Red Cross during World War I. The Salina Evening Journal reported 25 December 1920 that: "During the war she became a nurse in a Detroit hospital, training for the Red Cross, but at the end of a year her health was broken down and she was sent home."[3]


In 1920, Adams signed a five-year contract with Benjamin Bowles Hampton, a Hollywood producer and her future husband.[citation needed] She later moved to California where she acted in more than 40 silent films, including melodramas, comedies and westerns.[citation needed]

Described as "patricianly beautiful,"[citation needed] Adams worked with many of Hollywood's leading actors, including Adolphe Menjou, Tom Mix, Wallace Beery, and Lon Chaney. In 1923 she was Rin Tin Tin's leading lady in Where the North Begins, which was a huge success and is often credited with saving Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. She later maintained that Rin Tin Tin was her "favourite leading man".[4]

Her best-known film was The Big Parade, the second-highest-grossing silent film in cinematic history. It was directed by King Vidor, and Adams had a major role, alongside John Gilbert and Renée Adorée. Perhaps her most memorable role was in the 1920 film The Penalty, in which she played Barbara, the artist who helps humanise the crippled crime boss played by Lon Chaney .

Personal life[edit]

Adams married Hampton, 21 years her senior, in Hollywood on 18 September 1924. They had no children. He died in 1932 leaving her very wealthy. In 1937, Adams met Donald John Scobie Mackinnon (always known as Scobie), the second son of wealthy Australian newspaper manager, grazier and racehorse owner, Lauchlan ("L.K.S.") Mackinnon, at a party in London, and three weeks later, on 1 April, they married in Mayfair.[5]

After a protracted honeymoon, Mackinnon brought Adams to Victoria, Australia in March 1938. The couple divided their time between Mooramong, their Western District grazing property, and their Melbourne townhouse at 220 Domain Road South Yarra. They entertained often at Mooramong, which they transformed from a staid Victorian homestead into a Jazz Age showpiece. On their frequent trips to Melbourne to attend the races and innumerable cocktail parties, they travelled in their Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. Adorned in smart hats and chic outfits, and often graced with diamonds, Adams was an exotic figure at Government House functions and at the racecourse.[5]

On his death in 1974, Scobie Mackinnon's estate, worth A$2,111,729, was left entirely to Adams. The marriage was childless.[5]


Adams died on 25 September 1978, in Windsor, Victoria, aged 80, and was cremated.[1] After generous bequests to family, friends, and animal welfare bodies, she left the remainder of her estate to the National Trust of Victoria for the creation of a wildlife sanctuary and fauna and flora park at Mooramong.[5]


She was a life governor of Skipton Hospital and vice president of Lort Smith Hospital for sick animals.


Year Title Role Notes
1934 What a Mother-in-Law! Frances
1927 Combat Wanda
Married Alive Viola Helmesley Duxbury
The Lunatic
1926 The Sea Wolf Maud Brewster
The Combat
Yellow Fingers Nona Deering
1925 The Big Parade Justyn Reed
The Wheel Kate O'Hara
Souls for Sables Helen Ralston[6] Uncredited
The Kiss Barrier Marion Weston
Men and Women Agnes Prescott
The Devil's Cargo Martha Joyce
1924 The Brass Bowl Sylvia
The Fast Set Fay Colleen
The Painted Flapper Eunice Whitney
Helen's Babies Helen Lawrence
Oh, You Tony! Betty Faine
Honor Among Men Patricia Carson
The Girl in the Limousine The Girl
Missing Daughters Claire Mathers
The Night Hawk Clia Milton
Daddies Bobette Audrey
1923 The Clean Up Phyllis Andrews
Legally Dead Minnie O'Reilly
Where the North Begins Felice McTavish
Stepping Fast Helen Durant
Brass Commandments Ellen Bosworth
The Scarlet Car Beatrice Forbes
1922 Do and Dare Juanita Sánchez
Heart's Haven Vivian Breed
Just Tony Marianne Jordan
Golden Dreams Mercedes McDonald
When Romance Rides Lucy Bostil
The Gray Dawn Nan Bennett
1921 The Mysterious Rider Columbine
Man of the Forest Helen Raynor
A Certain Rich Man Molly Culpepper
The Lure of Egypt Margaret Lampton
Black Beauty Claire Adams is not in the Vitagraph film. She appeared in a competing rival version of the story produced by Eskay Harris Feature Film Company.[7]
The Killer Ruth Emory
The Spenders Avice Milbrey
1920 The Dwelling Place of Light Janet Butler
The Penalty Barbara
Riders of the Dawn Lenore Anderson
The White Dove Ella De Fries Credited as Clare Adams
The Key to Power Ann Blair
The Money Changers Lucy Hegan
The Great Lover Ethel
1919 The Invisible Bond Leila Templeton Also known as Should a Wife Forgive? (USA)
A Misfit Earl Phyllis Burton
Speedy Meade Alice Hall
The End of the Road Mary Lee
1918 The Spirit of the Red Cross Ethel
Adam and Some Eves
The Man-Eater Credited as Peggy Adams
1917 Nutty Knitters
Faint Heart and Fair Lady
Your Obedient Servant
Chris and His Wonderful Lamp Betty
1913 The Widow's Suitors Credited as Clara Adams
Boy Wanted As Clara Adams
A Shower of Slippers As Clara Adams
Aunt Elsa's Visit As Clara Adams
The Office Boy's Birthday As Clara Adams
Bragg's New Suit As Clara Adams
1912 Kitty at Boarding School
Revenge Is Sweet As Clara Adams
The Artist's Joke As Clara Adams
An Intelligent Camera
Apple Pies As Clara Adams
Kitty's Holdup
Eddie's Exploit As Clara Adams
Curing the Office Boy As Clara Adams
A Heroic Rescue As Clara Adams


  1. ^ a b c Katchmer, George A. (2002). A Biographical Dictionary of Silent Film Western Actors and Actresses. McFarland. p. 2. ISBN 9781476609058. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Actress Plays Reuniting Role". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. 7 July 1932. p. 1. Retrieved 3 September 2016 – via open access
  3. ^ "Among the Movie Stars". The Salina Evening Journal. Kansas, Salina. 25 December 1920. p. 14. Retrieved 3 September 2016 – via open access
  4. ^ McCallum, Bonnie (1978). ales Untold: Memoirs of an ABC Publicity Officer. Melbourne: Hawthorn Press. p. 32.
  5. ^ a b c d Maxwell, Virginia. "Mackinnon, Donald John Scobie (1906–1974)". Austrailan Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  6. ^ Souls for Sables Cast Information
  7. ^ Black Beauty (II) produced by Eskay Harris Feature Film Company..retrieved 16 June 2018
  • Photoplay Dec,1924
  • Film Index, No 3, 1970, p. 12
  • Social History Report on Morramong, Skipton by D. Hellier (1989). National Trust of Australia, Victoria branch.

External links[edit]

Archival collections[edit]