Star Archive

Mary Clare (1892 - 1970)

Some character players are like music hall turns: they come on and do their shtick. As soon as you see their names in the opening credits you know exactly what to expect. Mary Clare belonged to a different breed. She tailored each performance to the demands of her character and script. As a result, she's not as well known as she should be. 

Because of her relatively low profile, biographical details are sketchy. Thanks to Graham Hill we now have an accurate birthdate (17 July 1892) and know she was born Mary Clare Absalom. She's a Londoner who first went on the stage in 1912. She married Lionel P Mawhood in 1915 and had one daughter Rozanne.

She was at her best in ensemble casts and originated roles in such classic plays as The Skin Game, The Constant Nymph, White Cargo and Cavalcade. She reprised her role in The Skin Game for the movies and then there was no stopping her. Like many actresses of her generation she divided her time between the stage and the pictures.

For most filmgoers she's best remembered as the sinister countess in The Lady Vanishes. Compare her in that Hitchcock to the weary aunt in charge of a children's party in Young and Innocent: two very different women. You might also want to compare her performances playing the same role in two versions of The Constant Nymph and Hindle Wakes.

Though she mainly did showy cameo roles, she did occasionally get a lead. I long to see her in the title role of Mrs Pym of Scotland Yard. If anyone has a copy please let me know.

So let's hear it for Mary Clare - for giving pleasure to so many film buffs.

Mary Clare in The Lady Vanishes


1920 The Skin Game
1920 The Black Spider
1922 A Prince of Lovers
1922 Foolish Monte Carlo
1922 A Gypsy Cavalier
1923 The Lights of London
1923 Becket
1927 Packing Up
1928 The Constant Nymph
1928 The Princes in the Tower
1929 The Feather
1931 Shadows
1931 The Outsider
1931 Keepers of Youth
1931 Hindle Wakes
1931 Gypsy Blood
1931 Many Waters
1932 Bill's Legacy
1933 The Constant Nymph
1933 Say It With Flowers
1934 Night Club Queen
1934 Jew Suss
1935 Lorna Doone
1935 A Real Bloke
1935 The Clairvoyant
1935 The Passing of the Third Floor Back
1936 The Guv'nor
1936 Line Engaged
1937 The Mill on the Floss
1937 The Rat
1937 Young and Innocent
1937 Our Royal Heritage
1938 The Challenge
1938 Climbing High
1938 The Lady Vanishes
1938 The Citadel
1939 A Girl Must Live
1939 There Ain't No Justice
1939 Mrs Pym of Scotland Yard
1939 On the Night of the Fire
1940 The Briggs Family
1940 Miss Grant Goes to the Door
1940 Old Bill and Son
1940 The Fugitive
1941 This Man is Dangerous
1941 The Big Blockade
1942 The Night Has Eyes
1942 Next of Kin
1944 The Hundred Pound Window
1944 One Exciting Night
1944 Fiddlers Three
1946 London Town
1947 Mrs. Fitzherbert
1948 Three Weird Sisters
1948 My Brother Jonathan
1948 Oliver Twist
1948 Esther Waters
1949 The Cardboard Cavalier
1950 Portrait of Clare
1950 The Black Rose
1952 Penny Princess
1952 Hindle Wakes
1953 Moulin Rouge
1953 The Beggar's Opera
1955 Mambo
1960 The Price of Silence