Young, Clara Kimball (1890–1960)

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Young, Clara Kimball (1890–1960)

American silent-film actress. Born in September 1890 in Chicago, Illinois; died on October 15, 1960, in Woodland Hills, California; married James Young (a director and actor, divorced 1916); married Harry Garson (early 1920s).

Selected filmography:

Washington Under the American Flag (1909); A Midsummer's Night Dream (1909); Uncle Tom's Cabin (1910); Cardinal Wolsey (1912); Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (1912); Lord Browning and Cinderella (1912); Beau Brummel (1913); The Little Minister (1913); Cupid Versus Fellow Voyagers (1913); Love's Sunset (1913); Beauty Unadorned (1913); The Violin of M'sieur (1914); Happy-Go-Lucky (1914); My Official Wife (1914); The Fates and Flora Fourflush (serial, 1915); Camille (1915); Trilby (1915); The Deep Purple (1915); Hearts in Exile (1915); The Yellow Passport (1916); The Feast of Life (1916); The Easiest Way (1917); Magda (1917); The Price She Paid (1917); The Savage Woman (1918); The Marionettes (1918); The Claw (1918); Cheating Cheaters (1919); Eyes of Youth (1919); The Forbidden Woman (1920); Mid-Channel (1920); Straight from Paris (1921); What No Man Knows (1921); Hush (1921); Charge It (1921); Enter Madame (1922); The Hands of Nara (1922); The Worldly Madonna (1922); Cordelia the Magnificent (1923); A Wife's Romance (1923); The Woman of Bronze (1923); Lying Wives (1925); Kept Husbands (1931); Mother and Son (1931); Women Go on Forever (1931); File No. 113 (1932); Probation (1932); The Return of Chandu (feature and serial, 1934); She Married Her Boss (1935); His Night Out (1935); The Black Coin (serial, 1936); The Rogues' Tavern (1936); Three on the Trail (1936); The Frontiersman (1938); The Roundup (1941).

Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1890, the daughter of a stagehand and an actress, Clara Kimball Young made her stage debut at age three. She became a skilled actress in vaudeville productions and stock and then began her association with the film company Vitagraph in 1909. At this period, she was married to James Young, an actor and director she had met in Salt Lake City stock. Under his tutelage, she quickly became a polished performer for Vitagraph, maintaining a hectic film schedule there. Although she appeared in a few comedies, she was often typecast in matronly roles. In 1914, a prominent fan magazine named her the most popular screen actress in America.

In 1915, Young left Vitagraph to become the top name at World Film Productions, a newly formed company created by Lewis J. Selznick. She appeared in a number of productions until 1916, when partners pushed Selznick out of World Film Productions and Young left with him. That year, she divorced her husband, and Selznick formed the Clara Kimball Young Film Company, devoted entirely to her films. Young's popularity began to diminish in the mid-1920s, which seems to have coincided with her marriage to Harry Garson, her former agent, who became the producer and director of her films. Although she appeared in several more movies, they were of lesser quality, and, with her popularity severely waning, Young retired from films for a time, reverting to vaudeville.

During the 1930s, Young returned to the screen, primarily in character parts in low-budget productions. After a career that spanned some 50 films, she retired altogether in 1941. Young died on October 15, 1960, and was interred at Grand View Memorial Park in Glendale, California.


Katz, Ephraim. The Film Encyclopedia. 3rd ed. NY: HarperPerennial, 1998.

Slide, Anthony. Silent Portraits: Stars of the Silent Screen in Historic Photographs. Vestal, NY: Vestal, 1989.

Susan Wessling , freelance writer, Worcester, Massachusetts

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Young, Clara Kimball (1890–1960)

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