Claire Trevor

Claire Trevor
Associated Press

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Claire Trevor
Film: North side of the 6900 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Actress
Born Claire Wemlinger on March 8, 1909 in New York, NY
Died April 8, 2000 in Newport Beach, CA

Claire Trevor was an Academy Award-winning actress who starred in more than 60 films including such silver screen classics as "Key Largo" and "Stagecoach."

She not only enjoyed a Hollywood career spanning more than five decades, but performed in hundreds of radio and television shows — including an Emmy-winning role in "Dodsworth" before retiring from acting in 1987.

"Claire Trevor was a consummate professional who may well have never given a bad performance," said Kevin Thomas, a Times film writer. "She was often cast as a shady lady but was always able to reveal vulnerability beneath a tough veneer.

Trevor is probably best known for her dramatic scene in "Key Largo" when Edward G. Robinson, playing her sadistic boyfriend, forces her to croak out "Moanin' Low" in return for the drink she so desperately craves. And when Robinson coldly refuses her the drink, "because you were rotten," a latter-day critic wrote, "the sense of humiliation is heartbreaking."

With a voice once described as sounding like delicious trouble, Trevor was one of the most sought-after supporting actresses during the 1930s and '40s, working for legendary directors John Ford, John Huston, William Wyler and Raoul Walsh.

The true love of her life was Milton Bren. A onetime Hollywood agent, he produced "Topper," starring Cary Grant, helped develop the Sunset Strip and won the first Newport-Ensenada International Yacht Race.

At the time of their marriage in 1948, she was twice divorced and had one son, Charles. Bren also was divorced and had two sons, Donald and Peter. All three young sons lived with the newlyweds.

"We were an instant family," she recalled in 1995. "I raised both boys. They're like my own."

Her life was struck by tragedy in the late 1970s.

In 1978, her son Charles was among 144 people killed in an airplane collision over San Diego. In 1979, her husband of 31 years died of a brain tumor.

In the years before her death, Claire Trevor Bren, stepmother to billionaire developer Donald Bren, became a generous philanthropist and patron of the arts in Orange County. She donated $500,000 for the renovation of UC Irvine's student theater, which was renamed in her honor.

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1937 Best Supporting Actress Dead End Nomination
    1948 Best Supporting Actress Key Largo Win
    1954 Best Supporting Actress The High and the Mighty Nomination

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