Claudia Dell — Ex-Follies Girl! (1930) 🇺🇸

Claudia Dell — Ex-Follies Girl! (1930) |

June 17, 2023

Claudia Dell — Ex-Follies Girl! (1930) 🇺🇸 |

Claudia Dell graduates from Ziegfeld glorification to screen stardom

There is always irony in the story of the young man or woman who comes to Hollywood without any particular ambition for fame in the movies and succeeds in them. So many who come imbued with hope and determination to make their name and fortune, depart failures, disillusioned and discouraged, that the success of one who arrives with utter indifference to the glamour has a romantic fascination about it.

by David Arnold

That is the story of Claudia Dell, who abandoned two attractive stage roles in New York, because she couldn't overcome homesickness for her family. Consequently, she departed for Los Angeles where her father and mother had taken up their residence. During her stage career and as a feature of Ziegfeld productions in New York and London, she had never been intrigued by motion pictures. Today, scarcely three months after her arrival in Hollywood, she has been entrusted with three of the most important feminine roles that Warner Brothers studios had on their schedule.

Claudia Dell was born in San Antonio, Texas, and her blonde southern beauty with her soft, musical voice, characteristic of the South, is one of her chief charms. Her family was well-to-do and when her father was obliged to take up his residence in Mexico City while Claudia was a child, she received considerable of her early education in an English school there. And it was to be her lot that foreign cities were to give her much of the culture and cosmopolitan poise that is one of her notable characteristics.

Fortune found her at various times during her youth in Nice, Monte Carlo, Paris and London where she absorbed the language, the education and cultural background that these places can bestow.

Even as a child she was remarkably accomplished and her first appearances as an entertainer were at Kelly Field, where her childish songs and dances were an attraction to the soldiers there during the war. These experiences delighted her and she can not remember when she was not eager to go on the stage.

When her parents released her from her school work she visited relatives in New York, and had the good fortune to attract the attention of Flo Ziegfeld, who immediately gave her a place in his Follies ; and at his suggestion she continued her voice training and dancing.

Her enthusiasm and ambition quickly brought her the first big chance, to play the lead in Ziegfeld's London production of Merry Mary. And then followed a succession of important roles, chiefly under the sponsorship of Mr. Ziegfeld. It was upon the threshold of new success in New York that Miss Dell found the desire to see her mother and father stronger than her ambition and summarily departed for Hollywood.

Now the ordeal of waiting in casting offices, haunting the studios in wait for interviews that is the lot of nearly every neophyte in Hollywood, never plagued Claudia Dell. Attracted by her personality, an acquaintance obtained her an audience with a Warner Brothers executive and within an hour after her tests were completed, she was signed for the leading feminine role in "Sweet Kitty Bellairs."

Before she had completed this assignment, Al Jolson, in a search for the right woman to play opposite him in "Big Boy," saw some of her scenes in the projection room.

"Get me her!" shouted Jolson, and a new gate to opportunity was opened to this 'lucky' girl. Jolson had interviewed more than fifty actresses without finding one with the requirements he had in mind, when Miss Dell came, as he declared, "as an answer to prayer."

When it came time to cast the James Oliver Curwood story, "River's End," there was not much debate about the feminine lead. Nearly everyone concerned with the production agreed that Claudia Dell should play it. And so came her third big part within three months after she had entered a picture studio for the first time in her life.

Yes, Claudia was lucky when she came to Hollywood. But no one who has seen her work before the camera, or heard her voice in Sweet Kitty Bellairs will agree that luck is the answer to the unparalleled flight of Claudia Dell from obscurity to fame in motion pictures.

One of the outstanding charms of this girl now makes itself known. She does not take herself too seriously. She likes her work, but she enjoys other things as well and takes time out frequently to enjoy them. She is a swimmer of real athletic propensities and has accumulated a variety of medals won in diving and swimming competitions. But she is proudest of having once saved a life by means of her prowess in the water.

She has endeared herself to her associates at the studio by reason of her geniality and her keen sense of humor. But chiefly because of her habit of punctuality.

The attractive woman companion with whom she is customarily found, and whom many people mistake for an elder sister, is her mother. She describes her mother, when talking to others about her, as a 'knockout.' And she's her mother's daughter!

A blonde beauty from San Antonio, Texas, by way of New York, Mexico City, London, and Paris, finds her real career in Hollywood: Claudia Dell.

Somebody hailed her as 'the blonde Louise Brooks.' But Claudia Dell, whom you'll see in "Sweet Kitty Bellairs" and "River's End," has charm and talents all her own. Warner’s are grooming her for stardom. Another Ziegfeld girl makes good in the movie city!

Madge Evans and Jean Shelby as they appear in a Vitaphone two-reeler. Madge Evans was a child actress in the movies before they could talk.

Collection: Screenland Magazine, November 1930