Claire McDowell

Claire McDowell

  • Highest Rated: 100% Three Comrades (1938)
  • Lowest Rated: 75% The Big House (1930)
  • Birthday: Invalid date
  • Birthplace: Not Available
  • Descended from an old, well-established performing family, American actress Claire McDowell was one of those weathered character players who seemed to have been born at the age of 50. Only 32 years old when she first stepped before Billy Bitzer's camera at Biograph studios in 1910, Ms. McDowell almost immediately found herself playing everyone's mother. She spent the next four years working for D.W. Griffith before retiring to raise a family; her husband was fellow Griffith player Charles Hill Mailes. Back in films in 1917, McDowell continued her celluloid maternal career. Perhaps her most celebrated matriarchal role was as John Gilbert's mother in The Big Parade (1924), in which she has an unbearably poignant scene as she embraces her amputee son, recalling in flashback when her infant boy took his first steps. Ms. McDowell also has some potent sequences as Ramon Novarro's mother in Ben-Hur; stricken with leprosy, she dares not embrace her sleeping son, but instead kisses the stones upon which he lies. Semi-retired when talkies came in, Claire McDowell occasionally emerged to play bits, often in the company of her husband (as in Murder By Television [1935]). One of her last last notable roles, albeit unbilled, was as the ailing mother (again!) who faints on the bus in It Happened One Night (1934).

Highest Rated Movies








No Score Yet Phantom Express Ma Nolan 2032
No Score Yet Adventure Woman in library 1945
No Score Yet Black Market Rustlers Mrs. Prescott 1943
78% Reap the Wild Wind Ettie 1942
No Score Yet Doctor Kildare Goes Home Nurse 1940
No Score Yet Idiot's Delight Mother 1939
100% Three Comrades Frau Zalewska 1938
No Score Yet High, Wide and Handsome Seamstress 1937
No Score Yet Small Town Girl (One Horse Town) Bit in Bed 1936
No Score Yet August Week-End Alma Washburne 1936
No Score Yet Murder by Television Mrs. Houghland 1935
100% Imitation of Life Teacher 1934
No Score Yet Doctor Monica Miss Bryerly 1934
98% It Happened One Night Mother 1934
88% Wild Boys of the Road (Dangerous Days) Mrs. Smith 1933
No Score Yet By Appointment Only Mrs. Mary Carroll 1933
No Score Yet The Working Man Stenographer 1933
No Score Yet Central Airport Mrs. Blaine 1933
No Score Yet Cornered Actor 1932
No Score Yet The Strange Love of Molly Louvain Mrs. Schiller 1932
No Score Yet An American Tragedy Mrs. Samuel Griffiths 1931
No Score Yet Mother's Cry Mary's Mother 1930
75% The Big House Mrs. Marlowe 1930
No Score Yet The Show-Off Mom Fisher 1926
100% Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ Princess of Hur 1926
100% The Big Parade Mrs. Apperson 1925
No Score Yet West-Bound Limited Actor 1923
No Score Yet Penrod Mrs. Schofield 1922
No Score Yet Heart's Haven May Caroline Laird 1922
No Score Yet Love Never Dies Liz Trott 1921
88% The Mark of Zorro Doña Catalina 1920
No Score Yet Something to Think About Housekeeper 1920
No Score Yet The Jack Knife Man Liz Merdin 1920
No Score Yet Heart O' the Hills Actor 1919


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