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Clifton Webb Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Trivia (15)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 19 November 1889Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Date of Death 13 October 1966Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameWebb Parmalee Hollenbeck
Height 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Already trained in dance and theater, he quit school at age 13 to study music and painting. By 19 he was a professional ballroom dancer in New York, and by his mid-twenties he was performing in musicals, dramas on Broadway and in London, and in silent movies. His first real success in film came in middle age as the classy villain Waldo Lydecker in Laura (1944), followed by the part of Elliott Templeton in The Razor's Edge (1946) - both of which won him Oscar nominations. His priggish Mr. Belvedere in a series of films was supposedly not far removed from his fastidious, finicky, fussy, abrasive and condescending real-life persona. He was inseparable from his overbearing mother Maybelle, with whom he lived until her death at 91, six years before his own death. The recent success of Titanic (1997) created brief interest due his having appeared with Barbara Stanwyck in the 1953 version of the story. He is interred at Abbey of the Psalms, Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now known as Hollywood Forever).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Trivia (15)

Created the role of Charles Condomine in Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit on the London and New York stages.
Acknowledged as the inspiration for Mr. Peabody on "Bullwinkle Show, The" (1961)
Appeared on the New York stage in 1925 in a dance act with Mary Hay.
Interred at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now called Hollywood Forever), Hollywood, California, USA, in the Abbey of the Psalms.
Introduced Irving Berlin's classic song Easter Parade on the Broadway stage.
The part that got away: Ayn Rand wanted him to play suave villain Ellsworth Toohey in the 1949 adaptation of The Fountainhead (1949) and indeed it would have been superb casting which might have significantly improved the flawed film, but studio chiefs vetoed this idea.
Webb's career ascent on Broadway paralleled Libby Holman, with whom he co-starred in successful Broadway shows in 1929-1930. He tended to dance while she sang. The two (actually three, if you count Webb's mother) became lifelong friends and would re-team for the troubled 1938 production of Cole Porter's You Never Know, which folded after only 73 performances.
Was a close personal friend of co-star (in The Little Show, Three's a Crowd, and You Never Know) Libby Holman. Webb (with his mother) would accompany Holman on frequent vacations and would remain friends from 1929 until the mid-1940s.
In 1892, his formidable mother, Mabelle (1869-1960), moved to New York with her beloved "little Webb," as she called him for the remainder of her life. She dismissed questions about his father, Jacob Grant Hollenbeck, a railroad ticket clerk, by saying, "We never speak of him. He didn't care for the theater." Webb and Maybelle lived together until her death at age 91. When Clifton's obsessive grieving for his mother continued on for well over a year, close friend Noel Coward, keeping their lengthy friendship in mind, is said to have remarked with a bit of exasperation, "It must be difficult to be orphaned at seventy." Webb never recovered from his mother's death. He made one film, then spent the remainder of his life in ill health and seclusion.
Studied painting with the renowned Robert Henri and voice with the equally famous Victor Maurel
In 1925 Clifton appeared on stage in a dance act with vaudeville star and silent film actress Mary Hay. Later that year, when she and her husband, film star Richard Barthelmess, decided to produce and star in their own film vehicle New Toys (1925), they chose Webb to be second lead. The movie proved to be financially successful, but nineteen more years would pass before Webb appeared in another feature film.
His elegant taste kept him on Hollywood's best-dressed lists for decades. His scrupulously-private gay life remained free of scandal.
There followed an interlude in Hollywood in the early 1930s when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer put Webb on a salary of $3,000 a week. While socially it turned out to be a pleasant experience, professionally it was a disaster. For eighteen months, he swam, attended gala parties, met all the important people, but never once appeared in a motion picture. He referred to Hollywood as "a land of endowed vacations."
Featured in "Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir" by Karen Burroughs Hannsberry (McFarland, 2003).
Webb never married or had children.

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