Mae Clarke

Mae Clarke


Also Known As
Mary Klotz, Mae Clarke Langdon, Mae Clark
Birth Place
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
August 16, 1910
April 29, 1992
Cause of Death


Mae Clarke will forever be remembered as the petulant girlfriend who got half a grapefruit in the kisser from James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931). But there was more to her than that; Clarke had a respectable ? if brief ? career as a leading lady in pre-Code movies of the early 1930s, and continued in films as a character actress in minor roles. She had an easy, natural acting style...

Photos & Videos

Three Wise Girls - Lobby Cards
Three Wise Girls - Movie Poster
Frankenstein - Lobby Cards

Family & Companions

Lew Brice
First of three marriages to end in divorce; married in 1926; Brice was the brother of famed singer-comedienne Fanny Brice.
Stephen Bancroft
Herbert Langdon


Mae Clarke will forever be remembered as the petulant girlfriend who got half a grapefruit in the kisser from James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931). But there was more to her than that; Clarke had a respectable ? if brief ? career as a leading lady in pre-Code movies of the early 1930s, and continued in films as a character actress in minor roles. She had an easy, natural acting style and, in her youth, a sparkling personality. Anita Loos was said to have modeled the character of Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) after her.

Clarke was born Violet Mary Klotz in Philadelphia in 1910 and began her professional career as a dancer in New York City, where she shared a room with the young Barbara Stanwyck. She made her Broadway stage debut in 1926 in Stanwyck?s The Noose, and appeared in some ?B? movies at Fox beginning in 1929.

The year 1931 was a banner one for Clarke, who gained notice for her touching performance as prostitute Molly Molloy in United Artists? The Front Page. She then signed with Universal, winning critical praise for playing the lead in Waterloo Bridge. Clarke?s heroine was a tough chorus girl rather than the elegant ballerina of Vivien Leigh?s 1940 remake; she named it as her favorite role. In addition to the Cagney film, she also appeared in the 1931 Frankenstein, playing the doctor?s fiancé who is memorably terrorized by the monster (Boris Karloff).

Clarke was in for more abuse from Cagney in Lady Killer (1933), in which he plays a gang member who becomes a Hollywood star and she?s the no-good dame he drags by the hair and kicks in the rear. She plays another hardened case in Tod Browning?s Fast Workers (1933), which casts John Gilbert as a riveter and Clarke as the girlfriend who?s given to seducing other men. In Parole Girl (1933) she plays a shoplifter who takes amusing revenge on the store manager (Ralph Bellamy) who has helped send her to prison.

Around this time, Clarke suffered nervous collapses on two different occasions due to overwork and marital problems. She also was in a car accident that caused some facial scarring. When she was able to resume work, she found herself playing second fiddle to other actresses: Myrna Loy in Penthouse (1933), Mary Astor in The Man with Two Faces (1934) and Anna Sten in Nana (1934).

With the pre-Code era drawing to a close, Clarke?s ?type? was not so much in demand. By the mid-1940s she was accepting roles with no screen credit, and her frequent movie appearances in the 1950s and ?60s were mostly bits. Examples: In the Joel McCrea Western Wichita (1955) she plays the mother of leading lady Vera Miles. In another Western adventure, Mohawk (1956), she is the wife of Indian chieftain Ted de Corsia. And in the comedy A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966) she has a quick cameo at a bank window.

Clarke also worked often in television, where the parts were sometimes better, sometimes not. Her last movie role was an uncredited bit in Watermelon Man (1970) starring Godfrey Cambridge. Married and divorced three times, Clarke spent her final years at the Motion Picture and Television Country House and Hospital in Los Angeles, where she died in 1992.



Cast (Feature Film)

James Cagney: Top Of The World (1992)
A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966)
Mrs. Craig
Voice in the Mirror (1958)
Mrs. Robbins
Ride the High Iron (1957)
Mrs. Vanders
The Catered Affair (1956)
The Desperados Are in Town (1956)
Jane Kesh
Mohawk (1956)
Come Next Spring (1956)
Not As a Stranger (1955)
Miss Odell
Women's Prison (1955)
Wichita (1955)
Mrs. [Mary] McCoy
I Died a Thousand Times (1955)
Mabel Baughman
Magnificent Obsession (1954)
Mrs. Miller
Confidentially Connie (1953)
Thunderbirds (1952)
Mrs. Jones
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
Horizons West (1952)
Mrs. Tarleton
Skirts Ahoy! (1952)
Miss La Valle
Holiday for Sinners (1952)
Pat and Mike (1952)
Woman golfer
The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952)
Because of You (1952)
Love Is Better Than Ever (1952)
Mrs. Island
Fearless Fagan (1952)
Telephone operator
The Great Caruso (1951)
The People Against O'Hara (1951)
Three Guys Named Mike (1951)
Convair passenger
Royal Wedding (1951)
Phone operator
Inside Straight (1951)
Callaway Went Thataway (1951)
Mother on train
The Unknown Man (1951)
Stella's friend
Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone (1950)
The Reformer and the Redhead (1950)
The Yellow Cab Man (1950)
The Skipper Surprised His Wife (1950)
Duchess of Idaho (1950)
Betty, a flower girl
Annie Get Your Gun (1950)
Mrs. Adams
Gun Runner (1949)
Kate Diamond
Streets of San Francisco (1949)
Hazel Logan
Reaching from Heaven (1948)
Dorothy Gram
Daredevils of the Clouds (1948)
Kay Cameron
Kitty (1946)
Here Come the Waves (1944)
Ensign Kirk
And Now Tomorrow (1944)
Flying Tigers (1942)
Verna Bales
Lady from Chungking (1942)
Sailors on Leave (1941)
Women in War (1940)
Gail Halliday
Great Guy (1937)
Janet Henry
Outlaws of the Orient (1937)
Joan Manning
Trouble in Morocco (1937)
Linda Lawrence
The House of a Thousand Candles (1936)
Carol Vincent
Hearts in Bondage (1936)
Constance Jordan
Wild Brian Kent (1936)
Betty Prentice
Hats Off (1936)
Jo Allen
Hitch Hike Lady (1935)
Judy Martin
The Daring Young Man (1935)
Martha Allen
Silk Hat Kid (1935)
Laura Grant
Let's Talk It Over (1934)
"Pat" Rockland
This Side of Heaven (1934)
Jane Turner
The Man with Two Faces (1934)
Daphne [Flowers]
Nana (1934)
Going Hollywood (1933)
Flaming Gold (1933)
Claire [Gordon Manton]
Lady Killer (1933)
Myra [Gale]
Parole Girl (1933)
Sylvia Day
Fast Workers (1933)
Penthouse (1933)
Mimi Montagne
Turn Back the Clock (1933)
Mary [Gimlet]
Night World (1932)
Ruth Taylor
The Final Edition (1932)
Anne Woodman
The Impatient Maiden (1932)
Ruth Robbins
Breach of Promise (1932)
Hattie Pugmire
Three Wise Girls (1932)
Gladys Kane
As the Devil Commands (1932)
Jane Chase
Penguin Pool Murder (1932)
Gwen Parker
Reckless Living (1931)
Men on Call (1931)
Helen Gordon, previously known as Helen Harding
Frankenstein (1931)
The Good Bad Girl (1931)
Marcia Cameron
Waterloo Bridge (1931)
Myra [Deauville]
The Public Enemy (1931)
The Front Page (1931)
The Fall Guy (1930)
Bertha Quinlan
The Dancers (1930)
Nix on Dames (1929)
Jackie Lee
Big Time (1929)
Lily Clark

Cast (Special)

The American Film Institute Salute to James Cagney (1974)

Cast (Short)

Engagement Party (1956)

Life Events


Debut as cabaret dancer


Stage acting debut


First film as actress, "Big Time"


Retired from film acting to teach drama

Photo Collections

Three Wise Girls - Lobby Cards
Three Wise Girls - Lobby Cards
Three Wise Girls - Movie Poster
Three Wise Girls - Movie Poster
Frankenstein - Lobby Cards
Here are several Lobby Cards from Universal's Frankenstein (1931), starring Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, and Boris Karloff. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Lady Killer - Mae Clarke Publicity Still
Here is a photo of Mae Clarke taken to help publicize Warner Bros' Lady Killer (1933). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.


Movie Clip

Women's Prison (1955) - She Is Not A Criminal Doc Crane and superintendent Van Zandt (famously turbulent married couple Howard Duff and Ida Lupino) tangle over a new inmate (Jan Sterling as Helene Jensen), who gets scolded by Saunders (Mae Clarke) and supported by Brenda (Jan Sterling), on her first night inside, in Women’s Prison, 1955.
Women's Prison (1955) - Open, You're More Than Welcome Terrific momentum, Lewis Seiler directs the quasi-documentary open, with a pointed grievance in the narration, from the original screenplay by Jack DeWitt and Crane Wilbur, as deputy Green (Lorna Thayer) delivers nervous Helene (Phyllis Thaxter) and brassy recidivist Brenda (Jan Sterling), Frank Sully the turnkey, Mae Clarke as matron Saunders, in Women’s Prison, 1955.
Wichita (1955) - Pretty Good Sized Man Packed scene after the opening of the railroad, Joel McCrea as visitor Wyatt Earp is making a deposit (Sam Peckinpah his teller!) when railroad chief McCoy (Walter Coy) arrives with wife, daughter, reporter Bat Masterson and the mayor (Mae Clarke, Vera Miles, Keith Larsen, Carl Benton Reid), and trouble ensues, George Sherwood the risk-averse sheriff, in Wichta, 1955.
Penguin Pool Murder (1932) - Too Bad About Your Stock Exteriors and interiors at the old New York Aquarium at Battery Park (closed in 1941) make good framing for striking intensity with exhibitor Hemingway (Clarence Wilson), broker Parker (Guy Usher) and his sneaking wife (Mae Clarke), in the first “Miss Withers” picture, starring Edna May Oliver, from the Stuart Palmer novel, Penguin Pool Murder, 1932.
Penguin Pool Murder (1932) - I Believe The Word Is "Scrammed" Upstairs at the aquarium, debriefing witnesses, James Gleason as cop Piper tangles with Edna May Oliver as the lead, schoolteacher-snoop Miss Withers, interviewing potential suspect Seymour (Donald Cook), as the cop Donovan (Edgar Kennedy) stops another crime, in Penguin Pool Murder, 1932.
Penguin Pool Murder (1932) - Never Try To Evade The Law Foul play already underway, Joe Hermano the escaping thief, then the delightful introduction, George Archainbaud directing, of Edna May Oliver as schoolteacher Miss Withers in the first feature in the series based on Stuart Palmer’s novels, shot inside the old New York Aquarium, James Donlan the guard, Edgar Kennedy the cop, in Penguin Pool Murder, 1932.
Penguin Pool Murder (1932) - I Could Get A Substitute Dropping by her pad to collect her exemplary notes on his interviews, cop Piper (James Gleason) is surprised by the royal spread provided by Miss Withers (Edna May Oliver, in her first appearance as the character from the Stuart Palmer novels), with much sparking as he realizes her hat-pin may have been the weapon, in Penguin Pool Murder, 1932.
Penguin Pool Murder (1932) - That's A Little Vulgar Following a lead, Edna May Oliver as schoolteacher-sleuth Miss Withers engages the sultry sectary (Mary Mason) of the victim, her last barb a reference to the name of a well known women’s tonic, then bumps into maybe-suspicious lawyer Costello (Robert Armstrong) at the cop shop, in the first in the series, Penguin Pool Murder, 1932.
Waterloo Bridge (1931) - This Your First Air Raid? On the titular bridge from the same angle seen in MGM's better-known remake, American working-girl Myra (Mae Clarke) meets a dotty pedlar (Rita Carlisle) then Roy (Kent Douglass), an American serving with the Canadians, during a WWI London Zeppelin raid, in James Whale's Waterloo Bridge, 1931.
Frankenstein (1931) - It's Alive! Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) in his triumphant scene, Waldman (Edward Van Sloan), Victor (John Boles) and Elizabeth (Mae Clarke) his audience, brings his creation to life, in James Whale's Frankenstein, 1931.
Public Enemy, The (1931) - Not Before Breakfast, Dear Matt (Edward Woods) is getting on a little better with his gal (Joan Blondell) than Tom (James Cagney, title character) with his (Mae Clarke), all of them living high in a posh Chicago hotel when mob boss Nails (Leslie Fenton) rings up, bringing about a fruit-related milestone, in The Public Enemy, 1931.
Waterloo Bridge (1931) - I'd Still Be A Chorus Girl Second scene in director James Whale's second film, two years after American Myra (Mae Clarke) was last on stage, now turning tricks with pal Kitty (Doris Lloyd) in London's West End, ca. 1915, in Universal's largely faithful adaptation of Robert E. Sherwood's play, Waterloo Bridge, 1931.


Fast Workers - (Original Trailer) John Gilbert is a construction worker who tests his best friend's women for fidelity by seducing them in Tod Browning's Fast Workers (1933).
Duchess of Idaho - (Original Trailer) During a Sun Valley vacation, a woman tries to solve her roommate's romantic problems in Duchess of Idaho (1950), starring Esther Williams.
Kitty - (Original Trailer) A penniless British lord (Ray Milland) passes a street urchin (Paulette Goddard) off as a lady to sell her to a rich husband in Kitty (1946).
Public Enemy, The - (Original trailer graphics) An Irish-American street punk tries to make it big in the world of organized crime in The Public Enemy (1931), the film that made James Cagney a star.
This Side of Heaven - (Original Trailer) An eccentric family tries to work together when the father is accused of embezzlement in This Side Of Heaven (1934) starring Lionel Barrymore.
Magnificent Obsession (1954) - (Original Trailer) Director Douglas Sirk created the look of America in the 1950's in his romantic melodrama Magnificent Obsession (1954).
Turn Back The Clock - (Original Trailer) Lee Tracy goes back in time to relive his life in Turn Back The Clock (1933), a fantasy with science fiction elements and a surprise appearance by The Three Stooges.
Lady Killer - (Original Trailer) A criminal (James Cagney) on the run becomes a Hollywood movie star in Lady Killer (1933).
Catered Affair, The - (Original Trailer) Ernest Borgnine is exploiting his Academy Award from Marty, 1955, in the fancy MGM trailer for his next Paddy Chayefsky-based drama The Catered Affair, 1956, with Bette Davis and Debbie Reynolds.
Penthouse - (Original Trailer) The mob frames a lawyer for murder, so he enlists a call girl's help in finding the real killer in the pre-code drama Penthouse (1933) starring Myrna Loy.
Frankenstein - (Original Trailer) A crazed scientist creates a living being from body parts, not realizing it has a madman's brain in Frankenstein (1931), starring Boris Karloff.
Going Hollywood - (Original Trailer) Bing Crosby is a radio crooner who is Going Hollywood (1933) with Marion Davies hot on his trail in a musical directed by Raoul Walsh.


Rick Kinnett
Survived her.


Lew Brice
First of three marriages to end in divorce; married in 1926; Brice was the brother of famed singer-comedienne Fanny Brice.
Stephen Bancroft
Herbert Langdon