Actor Biography


Born: 1877, New York, NY

Died: 1966, Los Angeles, CA

Notable Films: The Mark of Zorro (1920), Love Never Dies (1921)

Most of Claire McDowell's film career was spent as a supporting actress. She was born in New York in 1877 and began her career on stage. Her first film credit is The Devil (1908) made by Biograph, directed by D.W. Griffith, in a cast with Harry Solter, Florence Lawrence, Arthur Johnson and Mack Sennett.

By 1920 she had appeared in over 200 films, from one or two reelers and on to feature films. From 1920 to 1929, she appeared in six to eight films per year. Neither cute nor pretty, her matronly looks intensified as she aged, and many of her roles were as mother to a main character, such as in Douglas Fairbanks' The Mark of Zorro (1920).

After 1929, McDowell appeared in several films every year, mostly in uncredited bit parts. Her last appearance was an uncredited part in the Clark Gable and Greer Garson dud Adventure (1945 — of the infamous tagline "Gable's back and Garson's got him"). Her filmography lists 360 film appearances, mostly in short films, with about 100 silent and talkie features. She died in Hollywood in 1966, not quite 90 years old.