Violet Mary Klotz
August 16, 1910
|Died||April 29, 1992 (aged 81)|
|Spouse(s)||Lew Brice (m. 1928; div. 1930)|
Stevens Bancroft (m. 1937-div. 1940)
Herbert Langdon (m. 1946-div. ?)
Mae Clarke (born Violet Mary Klotz; August 16, 1910 – April 29, 1992) was an American actress. She is widely remembered for playing Henry Frankenstein's bride Elizabeth, who is chased by Boris Karloff in Frankenstein, and for being on the receiving end of James Cagney's halved grapefruit in The Public Enemy. Both films were released in 1931.
Mae Clarke started her professional career as a dancer in New York City, sharing a room with Barbara Stanwyck. She subsequently starred in many films for Universal Studios, including the original screen version of The Front Page (1931) and the first sound version of Frankenstein (1931) with Boris Karloff. Clarke played the role of Henry Frankenstein's fiancée, Elizabeth, who is attacked by the Monster (Karloff), on her wedding day.
The Public Enemy, released that same year, contained one of cinema's most famous (and frequently parodied) scenes, in which James Cagney pushes a half grapefruit into Clarke's face, then goes out to pick up Jean Harlow. The film was so popular that it ran 24 hours a day at a theater in Times Square upon its initial release; Clarke's ex-husband had the grapefruit scene timed and would frequently buy a ticket, enter the theater to again enjoy that sequence, then immediately leave the theater.
Clarke appeared as Myra Deauville in the 1931 pre-Code version of Waterloo Bridge. In the film she portrays a young American woman who is forced by circumstance into a life of prostitution in World War I London; both the film and Clarke's performance were well received by the critics.
Clarke also appeared in the modest pre-Code Universal film Night World (1932), with Lew Ayres, Boris Karloff, Hedda Hopper, and George Raft. In 1933 she was the female lead in Fast Workers, John Gilbert's last film as a contracted MGM star, and Lady Killer with James Cagney and Margaret Lindsay. That same year she and actor Phillips Holmes were in a single-car accident that left Clarke with a broken jaw and facial scarring. Those injuries, however, did not end her film career, for she remained a leading lady for most of the 1930s. She was, though, increasingly cast in productions with lower budgets and that lacked the status of her earlier films. Then, by 1940, Clarke slipped into supporting roles, although she did have a few last leading roles later in the decade, notably as the heroine in the Republic serial King of the Rocket Men (1949). In the 1950s and 1960s, Clarke played uncredited bit parts in several notable films, including Singin' in the Rain, The Great Caruso, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Her last screen appearance was in the 1970 film Watermelon Man.
Personal life and death
In later years Clarke resided at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. Clarke died from cancer on April 29, 1992, at age 81. She is buried in Valhalla Memorial Park Cemetery.
- Big Time (1929) - Lily Clark
- Nix on Dames (1929) - Jackie Lee
- The Fall Guy (1930) - Bertha Quinlan
- The Dancers (1930) - Maxine
- Men on Call (1930) - Helen Gordon / Helen Harding
- The Front Page (1931) - Molly Molloy
- The Public Enemy (1931) - Kitty (uncredited)
- The Good Bad Girl (1931) - Marcia Cameron
- Waterloo Bridge (1931) - Myra
- Reckless Living (1931) - Bee
- Frankenstein (1931) - Elizabeth
- Three Wise Girls (1932) - Gladys Kane
- The Final Edition (1932) - Ann Woodman
- Impatient Maiden (1932) - Ruth Robbins
- Night World (1932) - Ruth Taylor
- Flaming Gold (1932) - Claire Gordon
- Breach of Promise (1932) - Hattie Pugmire
- The Penguin Pool Murder (1932) - Gwen Parker
- Parole Girl (1933) - Sylvia Day
- Fast Workers (1933) - Mary
- Turn Back the Clock (1933) - Mary Gimlet / Mary Wright
- As the Devil Commands (1933) - Jane Chase
- Penthouse (1933) - Mimi Montagne
- Lady Killer (1933) - Myra Gale
- Nana (1934) - Satin
- This Side of Heaven (1934) - Jane Turner
- Let's Talk It Over (1934) - Pat Rockland
- The Man with Two Faces (1934) - Daphne Flowers
- Silk Hat Kid (1935) - Laura Grant
- The Daring Young Man (1935) - Martha Allen
- Hitch Hike Lady (1935) - Judith Martin
- The House of a Thousand Candles (1936) - Carol Vincent
- Hearts in Bondage (1936) - Constance Jordan
- Wild Brian Kent (1936) - Betty Prentice
- Hats Off (1936) - Jo Allen
- Great Guy (1936) - Janet Henry
- Trouble in Morocco (1937) - Linda Lawrence
- Outlaws of the Orient (1937) - Joan Manning
- Women in War (1940) - Gail Halliday
- Sailors on Leave (1941) - Gwen
- Flying Tigers (1942) - Verna Bales
- Lady from Chungking (1942) - Lavara
- And Now Tomorrow (1944) - Receptionist (uncredited)
- Here Come the Waves (1944) - Ens. Kirk (uncredited)
- Kitty (1945) - Molly
- Reaching from Heaven (1948) - Dorothy Gram
- Daredevils of the Clouds (1948) - Kay Cameron
- Gun Runner (1949) - Kate Diamond
- Streets of San Francisco (1949) - Hazel Logan
- King of the Rocket Men (1949, Serial) - Glenda Thomas
- The Yellow Cab Man (1950) - Casualty Company Secretary (uncredited)
- The Reformer and the Redhead (1950) - Counter Lady with Change for a Quarter (uncredited)
- Annie Get Your Gun (1950) - Mrs. Adams, Party Guest (uncredited)
- The Skipper Surprised His Wife (1950) - Clubwoman (uncredited)
- Duchess of Idaho (1950) - Betty - Flower Shop Saleslady (uncredited)
- Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone (1950) - Train Passenger (uncredited)
- Three Guys Named Mike (1951) - Convair Passenger (uncredited)
- Inside Straight (1951) - Nurse (uncredited)
- Mr. Imperium (1951) - Minor Role (uncredited)
- Royal Wedding (1951) - Telephone Operator #1 (uncredited)
- The Great Caruso (1951) - Woman (uncredited)
- The People Against O'Hara (1951) - Receptionist (uncredited)
- The Unknown Man (1951) - Stella's Friend (uncredited)
- Callaway Went Thataway (1951) - Mother on Train (uncredited)
- Love Is Better Than Ever (1952) - Mrs. Island (uncredited)
- Singin' in the Rain (1952) - Hairdresser (uncredited)
- Carbine Williams (1952) - Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
- Skirts Ahoy! (1952) - Miss LaValle (uncredited)
- Pat and Mike (1952) - Golfer (uncredited)
- Holiday for Sinners (1952) - Minor Role (uncredited)
- Fearless Fagan (1952) - Hospital Telephone Operator (uncredited)
- The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952) - Townswoman (uncredited)
- Horizons West (1952) - Mrs. Jane Tarleton
- Thunderbirds (1952) - Mrs. Jones
- Because of You (1952) - Miss Peach / Nurse Peachie
- Confidentially Connie (1953) - Happy Shopper (uncredited)
- Magnificent Obsession (1954) - Mrs. Miller
- Women's Prison (1955) - Matron Saunders
- Not as a Stranger (1955) - Nurse Odell
- Wichita (1955) - Mrs McCoy.
- I Died a Thousand Times (1955) - Mabel Baughman (uncredited)
- Come Next Spring (1956) - Myrtle
- Mohawk (1956) - Minikah
- The Catered Affair (1956) - Saleswoman (uncredited)
- The Desperados Are in Town (1956) - Jane Kesh
- Ride the High Iron (1956) - Mrs. Vanders
- Decision at Sundown (1957)
- Voice in the Mirror (1958) - Mrs. Robbins
- Ask Any Girl (1959) - Woman on Train (uncredited)
- A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966) - Mrs. Craig
- Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) - Secretary (uncredited)
- Watermelon Man (1970) - Old Woman (uncredited)
- Screen Snapshots (1932, Documentary short) - Herself
- Screen Snapshots Series 16, No. 7 (1937, Documentary short) - Herself
- Folkart, Burt A.; Stassel, Stephanie (1992-04-30). "Mae Clarke, Famed for Grapefruit Scene, Dies". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-01-02.
- Mae Clarke at AllMovie
- Halliwell 1987, p. 130.
- Madsen 1994, pp. 16–17, 20.
- Clarke 1996, p. back cover.
- Cagney 1981, p. 211.
- Mank, Gregory William (2005-05-17). Women in Horror Films, 1930s. McFarland. ISBN 9780786423347.
- Goldman 1992, pp. 136-7, 144.
- "Mae Clarke Wins Divorce". New York Herald Tribune. 1940-01-06. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
- Clarke 1996, p. 221.
- "Obituary". Variety. 1992-05-02. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
- Mank, Gregory William (2014). The Very Witching Time of Night: Dark Alleys of Classic Horror Cinema. McFarland. p. 371. ISBN 9780786449552.
- Green, Jesse; Mark, Mary Ellen (March 1991). "You Must Remember This". Premiere.
- Cagney, James. Cagney by Cagney. New York: Doubleday, 1981. ISBN 978-0385520263.
- Clarke, Mae. Featured Player: An Oral Autobiography of Mae Clarke; Edited With An Introduction by James Curtis. Santa Barbara: Santa Teresa Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0810830448.
- Goldman, Herbert G. Fanny Brice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992. ISBN 978-0-19-535901-5.
- Halliwell, Leslie. Halliwell's Filmgoers Companion (Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies). New York: Collins Reference, 1997. ISBN 978-0062734785.
- Madsen, Axel. Stanwyck: A Biography. New York: HarperCollins, 1994. ISBN 0-06-017997-X.
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