When I was recently researching some background information for the review I wrote about The Case of the Curious Bride (1935) over on my Warren William fan site, I stumbled across a TIME Magazine review which talked only briefly about the picture but then provided more information about Claire Dodd, a personal favorite from the thirties, than I’d ever run into before. The excerpt:
Claire Dodd has had a distrait career. Born in Iowa, she has lived in Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, California and New York. She wants to go to Europe but she cannot, since she has lost her birth certificate which she needs for her passport and does not know in what town she was born. In Los Angeles, she lives at El Royale Apartments facing the Wiltshire Golf Course. She does not play golf. Her major hobby is deep sea fishing. She has never caught a fish or even had a strike. She has few friends in the cinema industry. Most of the employees on the Warner lot, where her contract has another year to run, believe her husband is a millionaire connected with S. W. Straus & Co. ("44 Years Without a Loss to Any Investor"). W. Straus & Co. is in receivership. Claire Dodd's husband is actually Richard Straus, a Los Angeles realtor of moderate means. She likes large dogs and owns a Pomeranian. In her screen career, prior to The Case of the Curious Bride, she has always been cast as a siren. In private life, she teaches Sunday School once a week, dislikes siren roles. She is one of the best dressed, most personable actresses in Hollywood. She has no trouble dieting since she dislikes eating. She can drive her Packard but seldom does. Her next picture will be The Glass Key.
That was then, of course, 1935. Her roots have been updated as much more certain on her IMDb page, courtesy of her son, John T. Cooper. Here’s what Mr. Cooper writes:
She was born on December 29, 1908 in Des Moines, Iowa where her mother was on a trip. This did not appeal to her so she said she was born in Little Rock Arkansas where she was raised. Her father was a doctor who abandoned her and her mother before she was ten years old. Her mother suffered from tuberculosis and Dorothy was forced to support her. She went to New York at the age of fifteen, lied about her age, and joined the Zeigfeld Follies ... Don't miss the rest of Mr. Cooper's biographical tribute to his mother over on the IMDb.
The IMDb also lists her first husband as Jack Milton Strauss, neither Richard or even S.W. as the period article denotes. So much for the accuracy of the press!
Truth be told, after coming across the piece inside TIME I’d planned to fill in the post by pulling together some research and posting my own Claire Dodd mini-biography—the bit published by her son on the IMDb accomplishes that better than I likely could have and so I took the easy route and referenced it here. At least I still had some Claire Dodd movie cards to show off though!
Claire Dodd has naturally become a favorite of mine through her half dozen appearances in films starring Warren William while both were at Warner Brothers. The films: Under 18 (1931), The Match King (1932), Smarty (1934), The Case of the Curious Bride (1935), Don’t Bet on Blondes (1935), and The Case of the Velvet Claws (1936). Dodd played Della Street in both of the Perry Mason titles.
She also excelled in Lawyer Man (1932) and Footlight Parade (1933) in a couple of those other women parts her son mentioned in his profile.
Claire Dodd retired from film after a series of 1942 releases and her marriage that same year to John T. Cooper's father, H. Brand Cooper. Dodd died November 23, 1973.
Over time Claire Dodd has become a very nice surprise for me, one of those performers usually listed further down in the cast and so almost always unexpectedly popping up in the credits. The movie that follows may very well be a stinker, but you can bet Dodd is going to be at least one saving grace if it is!
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