Beranger, Clara (1886–1956)

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Beranger, Clara (1886–1956)

American screenwriter and director. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1886; died in 1956; attended Goucher College; married William De Mille, in 1928 (her second marriage).


Tale of Two Cities (1917); Exit the Vamp (1921); The Gilded Lily (1921); A Heart to Let (1921); Miss Lulu Bett (1921); Sheltered Daughters (1921); The Wonderful Thing (1921); Bought and Paid For (1922); Clarence (1922); Her Husband's Trademark (1922); Nice People (1922); Grumpy (1923); The Marriage Maker (1923); Only 38 (1923); The World's Applause (1923); The Bedroom Window (1924); Don't Call It Love (1924); The Fast Set (1924); Icebound (1924); Locked Doors (1925); Lost Wife (1925); Men and Women (1925); New Brooms (1925); Don Juan's Three Nights (1926); Almost Human (1926); The Forbidden Woman (1926); The Little Adventuress (1927); Craig's Wife (1928); The Idle Rich (1929); This Mad World (1930); His Double Life (1933); Social Register (1934).

A screenwriter for three decades, Clara Beranger arrived in Hollywood after having worked as a successful New York City journalist. Early in her West Coast career, she freelanced, writing scenarios, as early screenplays were called, for silent-film companies like Vitagraph and Edison. When "talkies" became the rage, Beranger wrote primarily for MGM and Pathé.

Beranger also collaborated with director-producer William De Mille, brother of the legendary director Cecil B. De Mille, on many films, and William became her second husband in 1928. The couple continued to work together into the '30s, living in New York City and Playa del Rey, a beach community outside Los Angeles. Unlike many writers of her generation, Beranger detested the idea of working on a studio lot, preferring an office in her home.

During her long career, she often gave interviews on the art of screenwriting and lectured on screenwriting at the University of Southern California, following her retirement. In 1950, she authored Writing for the Screen, long considered a classic on the subject. Some of the battles waged by screenwriters, that Beranger touched on, continue to be waged. "It was the custom for producers," wrote Beranger, "to put a number of writers on the job … without any of the writers knowing others were working on the same story." The producer "did not seem to realize that every story, like every other work of art, has a style and voice of its own." Though Beranger was one of many successful screenwriters who came of age during Hollywood's early years, she was one of the few who believed in screenwriting's potential as an art form.


Beranger, Clara. Writing for the Screen. NY: Little, Brown, 1950.

McCreadie, Marsha. The Women Who Write the Movies: From Frances Marion to Nora Ephron. NY: Birchlane Press, 1994.

Smith, Frederick James. "Money Doesn't Make The Film," in Photoplay. September 1924, p. 54.

Deborah Jones , Studio City, California

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