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Clara Kimball Young
Clara Kimball Young by Witzel.jpg
Young, 1920
Edith Matilda Clara Kimball

(1890-09-06)September 6, 1890
Died October 15, 1960(1960-10-15) (aged 70)
Occupation Actress
Years active 1909–1941
James Young
(m. 1910; div. 1919)
Harry Garson
(m. 1920; div. 1927)
Dr. Arthur Fauman
(m. 1928; died 1937)
Parent(s) Edward Kimball
Pauline Kimball
Autograph Clara Kimball Young.svg

Clara Kimball Young (born Edith Matilda Clara Kimball; September 6, 1890 – October 15, 1960) was an American film actress who was popular in the early silent film era.

Early life

Clara Kimball Young, stock actress (SAYRE 4735)
Clara Kimball Young in 1909

Edith Matilda Clara Kimball was born in Chicago on September 6, 1890, the only child to Edward Kimball and Pauline Madeline Kimball (née Garrette, 1860–1919), both of whom were traveling stock actors. She made her stage debut at the age of three, and throughout her early childhood traveled with her parents and acted with their theater company. She attended St. Francis Xavier Academy in Chicago. Afterward, she was hired into a stock company and resumed her stage career, traveling extensively through the United States and playing in various small town theaters.

Early in her career, she met and married a fellow stock company and known Broadway actor named James Young. Young's previous wife had been the songwriter/lyricist Rida Johnson Young. After sending a photograph to Vitagraph Studios, Clara Kimball Young, as she was then known, and her husband were both offered yearly contracts in 1912.


Camille (1915) - 1
Clara Kimball Young as Marguerite Gautier in Camille, 1915

In the new medium of motion pictures, and without much screen competition, Young's star at Vitagraph rose quickly. Young was predominantly cast in one- and two-reel roles as the virtuous heroine. By 1913, she had become one of the more popular leading ladies at Vitagraph and placed at number 17 in a poll of public popularity. Many of Young's films from her early period with Vitagraph are now lost.

In 1914, Vitagraph released the drama My Official Wife, which starred Young as a Russian revolutionary and was directed by her husband James Young and co-starred the popular leading man Earle Williams. The film, which is now lost, was an enormous success and launched Young and Earle Williams into first place in the popularity polls, and Young immediately was signed to a contract with pioneering mogul Lewis J. Selznick.

Clara Kimball Young card 2b
Young, c. 1916

After a string of successful roles, Young was established as one of the chief attractions of World Film Corporation and her husband James was now a much sought-after director. By 1915, Young's popularity was equivalent to that of Mary Pickford, Dorothy and Lillian Gish, Pearl White, Edna Purviance, and Mabel Normand.

She became involved in a much publicized affair with Selznick, culminating in a 1916 divorce suit accusing her of alienation of affection. James Young finally obtained a final decree on April 8, 1919, on grounds of desertion.

Clara Kimball Young, with Clara Kimball Young Film Corporation, 1916
Clara Kimball Young, with Clara Kimball Young Film Corporation, October 1916

Selznick quickly formed the Clara Kimball Young Film Corporation, installing himself as president, and formed Selznick Productions to distribute her films and those of some other independent producers. After only four films with Selznick however, the personal and business relationship began to sour, and Young struggled to extricate herself from all business arrangements with Selznick, accusing him of defrauding her of her profits through a series of dummy corporations and by electing himself president of her company while not permitting her any input in her business affairs.

In 1917, Young became involved in an affair with Harry Garson, with whom she then teamed in a business venture. Garson had little experience in the motion picture business, and as a result, Young's career began to sputter. Although she remained a popular actress into the early 1920s, Young suffered at the inexperience and alleged mismanagement and apathy of Garson. In her 1921 diary, Young wrote "It will be wonderful to get out of debt and finish these three pictures for equity. I feel as though I had my head on a block and was waiting for the axe to descend at any moment."

Clara Kimball Young - May 1919 MPW
Young in May 1919
Charge It poster
Starring in Charge It for Equity Pictures (1921)

She began suffering a series of press attacks for her business dealings and personal relationship with Garson. By 1925, her stardom began to fade, and she made her last silent film Lying Wives. Young spent the remainder of the 1920s performing in vaudeville, and in 1928 quietly married Dr. Arthur Fauman. The advent of sound briefly revived her career, and she appeared in several featured roles for RKO Radio Pictures and Tiffany Pictures with only modest success, appearing only in bit parts including a Three Stooges short, and extra roles in mostly lower budget pictures and having a stint on radio. One of her bigger roles is in the murder mystery The Rogues Tavern (1936) where she plays a sweet but fussy motherly woman who is hiding a very big secret.

She retired from acting in 1941.


Young underwent minor surgery to correct a chronic bronchial problem in March 1960. She did not recover her health after the surgery, and became increasingly frail. Young died of a stroke at the Motion Picture House in Woodland Hills, California on October 15, 1960. Her remains were cremated, and she was interred at Grand View Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Young was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6513 Hollywood Blvd.

Selected filmography

  • Washington Under the British Flag (1909, short)
  • Washington Under the American Flag (1909, short)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (1909, short) as Penelope
  • Richelieu; or: The Conspiracy (1910, short)
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin (1910, short)
  • The Sepoy's Wife (1910, short) as The Sepoy's Wife
  • Ransomed; or, A Prisoner of War (1910, short) as Captain Jack's Wife
  • The Last of the Saxons (1910, short) as Aldyth
  • Lady Godiva (1911, short)
  • Cardinal Wolsey (1912, short) as Anne Boleyn
  • The Haunted Rocker (1912, short) as Madge Boggs, the Daughter
  • The Jocular Winds of Fate (1912, short) as Alice De Voe
  • The Pipe (1912, short) as Dingley's Wife
  • The Old Kent Road (1912, short) as Sue Simmonds, Their Daughter
  • Dr. LaFleur's Theory (1912, short) as the Criminal's Moll
  • Professor Optimo (1912, short) as Clara
  • The Picture Idol (1912, short) as Beth Ward, a Passionate Fan of Howard Hanson's
  • Mockery (1912, short) as Princess Dolorosa
  • Half a Hero (1912) as Mabel Kemp
  • Lulu's Doctor (1912, short) as Aunt Madge Marion
  • When Roses Wither (1912, short) as Howard's Wife
  • Lincoln's Gettysburys Address (1912, short)
  • The Troublesome Step-Daughters (1912, short) as an Assistant in the Toy Shop
  • The Money Kings (1912, short)
  • A Lively Affair (1912, short) as Dorothy, the Maid
  • Rock of Ages (1912, short)
  • Wanted, a Sister (1912, short) as Evelyn Marshall
  • Popular Betty (1912, short) as Betty Wilson
  • A Vitagraph Romance (1912, short) as Caroline, the Senator's Daughter
  • The Irony of Fate (1912, short)
  • Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgers (1912, short) as Mrs. Edson
  • A Mistake in Spelling (1912, short) as Mabel Moore, Fred's Fiancée
  • Poet and Peasant (1912, short) as Toinette Savard, the Daughter
  • Lord Browning and Cinderella (1912, short) as Cinderella
  • In the Flat Above (1912, short) as Priscilla Putnam, a Music Teacher
  • The Eavesdropper (1912, short) as Alice
  • Love Hath Wrought a Miracle (1913, short) as Rose Graham
  • The Little Minister (1913, short) as Lady Babbie
  • The Interrupted Honeymoon (1913, short) as Mrs. Adele Young, the Wife
  • What a Change of Clothes Did (1913, short) as John Mason's Fiancée
  • The Volunteer Strike Breakers (1913, short) as Harris's Fiancée
  • When Mary Grew Up (1913, short) as Mary
  • Beau Brummel (1913, short) as Helen Ballarat
  • The Old Guard (1913, short) as Melanie
  • Put Yourself in Their Place (1913, short) as Mr. Kent's Daughter
  • The Way Out (1913, short) as Emma Bindley – a Spinster
  • Getting Up a Practice (1913, short) as Emily Irving, Dr. Lyons' Sweetheart
  • The Mystery of the Stolen Child (1913, short) as The Nurse
  • Mr. Mintern's Misadventures (1913, short) as Muriel Leach
  • The Mystery of the Stolen Jewels (1913, short) as First Thief
  • The Wrath of Osaka (1913, short) as Miro
  • The White Slave; or, The Octoroon (1913, short) as Zoe – the Octoroon
  • Delayed Proposals (1913, short) as Marion Van Sicklen
  • Jack's Chrysanthemum (1913, short) as Kichimatsu, a Japanese Maiden
  • The Spirit of the Orient (1913, short) as Normallee
  • The Taming of Betty (1913, short) as Betty
  • A Faithful Servant (1913, short) as Nina, Count Gullio's Sweetheart
  • A Maid of Mandalay (1913, short) as Ma May
  • The Lonely Princess (1913, short) as The Princess, Prince Raffaello's Daughter
  • When Women Go on the Warpath; or, Why Jonesville Went Dry (1913, short) as Minor Role
  • Cupid Versus Women's Rights (1913, short) as Madge Trenton
  • The Hindoo Charm (1913, short) as Phyllis – the Step-Mother
  • John Tobin's Sweetheart (1913, short) as Minor Role
  • Extremities (1913, short) as Gladys Robinson
  • The Test (1913, short) as Eleanor Anstruther
  • The Pirates (1913, short) as Helen Merwin
  • On Their Wedding Eve (1913, short) as Edna Morvell
  • Jerry's Mother-In-Law (1913, short) as Jerry's Wife
  • Fellow Voyagers (1913, short) as Jerry's Wife
  • Betty in the Lions' Den (1913, short) as Betty
  • A Lesson in Jealousy (1913, short) as Mabel – the Wife
  • Beauty Unadorned (1913, short) as Helen Preston
  • Love's Sunset (1913, short) as Nita Travers
  • Up in a Balloon (1913, short) as Betty Simpson
  • The Perplexed Bridegroom (1914, short) as Lucy Demly, the Bride
  • Goodness Gracious (1914, short) as Gwendoline
  • Some Steamer Scooping (1914, short) as Clara Lane, a Journalist
  • Her Husband (1914, short) as Dora Allen, Mrs. Tom Harcourt
  • The Silver Snuff Box (1914, short) as Amy, Julian's Granddaughter
  • The Awakening of Barbara Dare (1914, short) as Dorothy Clayton
  • The Violin of M'sieur (1914, short) as Yvonne – Gerome's Daughter
  • Happy-Go-Lucky (1914, short) as Happy-Go-Lucky
  • My Official Wife (1914) as Helene Marie
  • David Garrick (1914, short) as Ada Ingot
  • Taken by Storm (1914, short) as Betty, the Willful Wife
  • The Fates and Flora Fourflush (1914) as Flora Fourflush
  • Lola (1914) as Lola Barnhelun
  • The Deep Purple (1915) as Doris Moore
  • Hearts in Exile (1915) as Hope Ivanovna
  • Marrying Money (1915) as Mildred Niles
  • Trilby (1915) as Trilby O'Ferral
  • The Heart of the Blue Ridge (1915) as Plutina
  • Camille (1915) as Camille
  • The Yellow Passport (1916) as Sonia Sokoloff
  • The Feast of Life (1916) as Aurora Fernandez
  • The Dark Silence (1916) as Mildred White
  • The Foolish Virgin (1916) as Mary Adams
  • The Common Law (1916) as Valerie West
  • The Rise of Susan (1916) as Susan
  • A Race for Life (1916, short)
  • The Price She Paid (1917) as Mildred Gower
  • The Easiest Way (1917) as Laura Murdock
  • Magda (1917) as Magda
  • Shirley Kaye (1917) as Shirley Kaye
  • The Marionettes (1918) as Fernande de Monclars
  • The House of Glass (1918) as Margaret Case
  • The Reason Why (1918) as Zara Zenova
  • The Claw (1918) as Mary Saurin
  • The Savage Woman (1918) as Renee Benoit
  • The Road Through the Dark (1918) as Gabrielle Jardee
  • Cheating Cheaters (1919) as Ruth Brockton
  • The Better Wife (1919) as Charmian Page
  • Eyes of Youth (1919) as Gina Ashling
  • Soldiers of Fortune (1919) (uncredited)
  • The Forbidden Woman (1920) as Diane Sorel
  • For the Soul of Rafael (1920) as Marta Raquel Estevan
  • Mid-Channel (1920) as Zoe Blundell
  • Hush (1921) as Vera Stanford
  • Straight from Paris (1921) as Lucette Grenier
  • Charge It (1921) as Julia Lawrence
  • What No Man Knows (1921) as Norma Harvey
  • The Worldly Madonna (1922) as Lucy Trevor, Dancer/Janet Trevor, Nun
  • The Hands of Nara (1922) as Nara Alexieff
  • Enter Madame (1922) as Prima Donna Lisa Della Robia
  • The Woman of Bronze (1923) as Vivian Hunt
  • Cordelia the Magnificent (1923) as Cordelia Marlowe
  • A Wife's Romance (1923) as Joyce Addisonn
  • Lying Wives (1925) as Patricia Chase
  • Kept Husbands (1931) as Mrs. Henrietta Post
  • Mother and Son (1931) as Faro Lil
  • Women Go on Forever (1931) as Daisy Bowman
  • Love Bound (1932) as Mrs. Jane Randolph
  • Probation (1932) as Mrs. Humphries
  • File 113 (1933) as Mme. Fauvel
  • I Can't Escape (1934) as Mrs. Wilson
  • Romance in the Rain (1934) as Mlle. Fleurette Malevinsky
  • The Return of Chandu (1934) as Dorothy Regent
  • The Drunkard (1935) as Mrs. Karns
  • Hollywood Extra Girl (1935, documentary short) as Grace
  • She Married Her Boss (1935) as Parsons
  • His Night Out (1935) as Mrs. Davis
  • Fighting Youth (1935) as Mrs. Stewart, House Mother
  • The Fighting Coward (1935) as Mrs. Gordon
  • Ants in the Pantry (1936, 3 Stooges short) as Mrs. Beulah Burlap
  • Dangerous Waters (1936) as Kind Lady Passenger (uncredited)
  • Love in September (1936, short) as Mrs. Thompson
  • Three on the Trail (1936) as Rose Peters
  • The Rogues Tavern (1936) as Mrs. Jamison
  • Oh, Susanna (1936) as Aunt Peggy Lee
  • The Black Coin (1936) as Donna Luise Navarro
  • They Wanted to Marry (1937) as Wedding Guest Talking to Hunter (uncredited)
  • New News (1937, short) as Mrs. Van Gage
  • Hills of Old Wyoming (1937) as Ma Hutchins
  • Dangerously Yours (1937) as Mrs. Prentiss (uncredited)
  • The Mysterious Pilot (1937, Serial) as Martha, Fritz's Wife [Chs.3-5,9,14-15]
  • The Secret of Treasure Island (1938, Serial) as Cortez Hotel Maid (uncredited)
  • The Wages of Sin (1938) as Fat Pearl
  • The Frontiersmen (1938) as Mrs. Peters
  • The Round Up (1941) as Mrs. Wilson
  • Mr. Celebrity (1941) as Herself (final film role)


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