Although Claudia Dell was said to have committed suicide because her movie career faltered, she did no such thing.
|Born||Claudia Dell Smith|
(1910-01-10)January 10, 1910
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
|Died||September 5, 1977(1977-09-05) (aged 67)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Film, stage actress|
Edward Silton (1934-1947) (divorced)
Daniel Emmett (1947-?)
Early careerDell's aunt Mary Dell was an actress in vaudeville. Her niece desired to go on the stage from an early age. Claudia's first experience as an entertainer was playing her violin for soldiers at Kelly Field during World War I. She visited New York with Mary at age 14 and yearned to remain there.
After completing her education at home, Dell returned to New York and became an understudy to Irene Delroy in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927. She studied acting in New York City at the Academy and singing at the Juilliard School. Soon she was sent to London to play the lead in a musical comedy, Mary Mary. The play's run lasted one year. While in England, scouts from Warner Brothers noticed her and asked her to come to Hollywood. She returned to New York along with her aunt following a tour of southern Europe. Claudia became homesick, rejected leads offered her in two stage productions and moved to Los Angeles, California, where her family was living.
HollywoodDell made her screen debut following an interlude of three months after coming west. She was given a contract by Warner Bros. to star in a number of musical pictures. She played the title role in a lavish Technicolor musical film, Sweet Kitty Bellairs (1930). Her next role was in another important musical, co-starring with Al Jolson in Big Boy (1930). Unfortunately, late in 1930, due to the beginning of the Great Depression, the public had grown weary of musicals. Warner Brothers, however, had already begun to film two other musicals (which would be released in 1931) in which Dell was given a leading role. The first of these was another lavish Technicolor production entitled Fifty Million Frenchmen. In the second film, Sit Tight (1931), she played the love interest of Paul Gregory, another musical star. Ironically, both pictures had their musical sequences cut before release. Warner Bros. dropped her option in 1931 (along with most of its other musical stars) and Claudia (having become associated with musicals) was relegated to Poverty Row productions.
On December 29, 1934, Dell married theatrical agent Edward Silton. She gave her age as 22. The couple honeymooned at the Palm Springs, California, desert resort and also in Europe. They were later divorced.
B-movies and radioShe bounced back at Universal Pictures in the first of four westerns, Destry Rides Again (1932), which starred cowboy actor Tom Mix. In 1935 she played the heroine in a very low-quality serial, The Lost City. Other 1930s films in which she appeared included Algiers (1938) and We're in the Legion Now! (1936). By the close of the 1930s she was reduced to playing minor roles, and the 1940s continued her career decline. She was cast in low-budget productions like Black Magic (1944), a Charlie Chan series movie. Also in 1944 she was in "Meeting At Midnight", another Charlie Chan series movie. She had a part in Call of the Jungle (1944), a jungle "adventure" from Poverty Row studio Monogram Pictures that showcased stripper Ann Corio.
After her film career faltered, Dell was under contract for five years with RKO Howard Hughes organization and did many Lux Radio Theater programs for Cecil B. DeMille and Orson Welles. She had her own television show in New York, Leave It to the Girls.
Modeling instructorShe worked as a receptionist in a beauty shop in Hollywood and made appearances in early television dramas. In 1973 she became the student director of the John Robert Powers School of Charm and Modeling in Sherman Oaks, California, and Woodland Hills Promenade. Previously, she had worked 12 years as director of the John Robert Powers School in Beverly Hills, California. Claudia commented about her new position, "There is no better work than being able to be associated with a school which helps mold young people for the future and one that gives a whole new dimension to a woman's life."
In the early 1970s Dell had a syndicated radio program that aired in the Midwest called The Claudia Dell Show. She wrote a syndicated column for eight years and in 1973 completed a collaboration with English author Helga Moray. This was for a television script which was considered for the Theater of the Week program.
Claudia Dell died in Los Angeles in 1977.
- p.172 Maltin, Leonard & Bann, Richard W. Our Gang: The Life and Times of the Little Rascals Crown Publishers, 1977
- Port Arthur, Texas News, Texas Girl Is Latest Find, Sunday, September 21, 1930, Page Nine.
- Port Arthur News, Claudia Dell Weds Theatrical Agent, Sunday, December 30, 1934, Page 2.
- Van Nuys, California The News, Today's Personality Is...Claudia Dell, Thursday, November 15, 1973. Page 5-C.
- Claudia Dell at the Internet Movie Database
- Claudia Dell at AllMovie
- Claudia Dell Internet Broadway Database credits
- Claudia Dell at Glamour Girls of the Silver Screen
- Claudia Dell New York Public Library Digital Gallery photo
- Claudia Dell at Find a Grave
* * *
Today, Claudia Dell is probably best remembered as the heroine of the 1935 serial THE LOST CITY.
She is also remembered as one of the girls who killed themselves when their movie careers fizzled, even though that story is false. Bette Davis seems to have been the source of that story.
Reblogged from http://www.glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com/show/528/Claudia+Dell/index.html
|10 November 63||sues actress Bette Davis and unnamed persons for $1.5 million. She says she was falsely reported to have died by suicide in Miss Davis' recent autobiography The Lonely Life. She reports that contrary to the book, she is the lively director of a modeling school in Beverly Hills.|
|27 November 63||Bette Davis insists she just made up the name Claudia Dell referred to in her book and never knew such a person existed. "My attorney later told me there is a real Claudia Dell, so heaven knows what will happen."|
Bette Davis also seems to have been the source of the story that the Claudia Dell was the model for the Columbia logo ( a depiction of the statue of liberty ).
The logo for World-Wide pictures ( a woman standing behind two globes ) is Claudia Dell, although that studio went out of business during the thirties and is consequently less well known.
Claudia Dell as a Ziegfield girl.
The comic book version was intended to be an ongoing series, but it came to an end after only two episodes.
Claudia Dell as the living trademark of World Wide Pictures.
Watch THE WOMAN CONDEMNED with Claudia Dell and Lola Lane
Watch THE LOST CITY with Kane Richmond and Claudia Dell
THE LOST CITY ( Comic book version ):