Claire James Profile

Claire James
Claire James
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(Claire W. James)
23 April 20 is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, of Swedish descent to Clarence Frederick and Helen E. James, nee Green
23 September 21 her sister, Lois B., is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She will become an actress.
9 July 28 her brother, Robert C., is born in Minneapolis, Minnesota
? lives for some time in Omaha, where her father's a newspaperman with the Bee-News
30s her mother moves the family to California from Minnesota to get the girls into motion pictures. They buy a large estate at 1287 Ozeta Terrace, West Hollywood, California. The house has a huge rolling front lawn, two standard bull dogs and a view all the way to Catalina Island.
? her father becomes fire chief at 20th Century-Fox
July 37 is named "Miss Los Angeles" in a talent and beauty contest. She will represent her city in the upcoming Mardi Gras beauty contest to be held in Venice, California
Mid-September 37 places third in the "Queen of Queens" contest, in which 34 Southern California beauty queens compete. 18-year-old Gwen Smith is the winner; second honors are taken by Mitzi Uehlein.
? works as a movie extra in Hollywood
? is in the cast of Artist and Models Abroad
June 38 is one of the Gold Diggers of Paris and wins second place in the Ocean Park bathing beauty contest staged for the visiting Shriners
14 August 38 is crowned "Miss California" at the Mardi Gras carnival in Venice, California. "Miss Claire James, 19, of Los Angeles will go to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to compete for the national beauty crown. Runners-up are Mitzi Uehlein, of Culver City, and Ester Ann Walker, of Ontario."
2 September 38 the press hails her "California's Beauty Hope" and pictures her leaving by plane from Venice for Atlantic City, New Jersey
6 September 38 wins advantage at a beauty show held before the "Miss America" pageant. She is judged "most beautiful girl in evening gown" in a contest at the Atlantic City convention hall, acclaimed by a crowd of 3,000 spectators. Golden-haired Marilyn Meseke, the reigning "Miss Ohio," wins the consolation prize as the "most perfect model." The press notes: "When 'Miss California' appeared the crowd went crazy. She wore a white net dress flaring widely from the hips. In her dainty hands was a silver sequins muff. The crowd called her back twice, and the judges asked for a third look. There was much whistling and stomping."
10 September 38 is runner-up to Meseke at the "Miss America" pageant, which is held in Atlantic City. Meseke, a dancing teacher from Marion, Ohio, is not the people's choice but is chosen by 15 judges. If the audience had had its way, Claire would have been given first instead of second place. "During every phase of the pageant, the people applauded each contestant, of course. But whenever 'Miss California' appeared the crowd went wild. Her faintest smile brought down the house. So strongly did they show their disapproval when Claire James wasn't given the first place that dozens of uniformed policemen were ordered into the auditorium." Claire refuses to take part in the crowning of Meseke.
11 September 38 says: "I am insulted.... I can't stand any more... I am disgusted." Her mother rages: "Some of the judges called me this morning and said it was an outrage that Claire didn't get first place."
12 September 38 at a press conference held in a New York City hotel, producer Earl Carroll and nightclub impresario Niels T. Granlund make her the official pretender to Meseke's crown. Claire is crowned in the hotel ballroom and is given another cup. "The judges at Atlantic City are incompetent. I have chosen enough beautiful girls to know what it's all about. Anyone at the contest could tell by the applause that 'Miss California' was the winner. So, Miss James, I crown you best of the fair and as the most beautiful girl in the Atlantic City pageant."
August 38 lands a lush movie contract with MGM
November 38 is heralded the new heart of Busby Berkeley
39 has a speaking part in Gone with the Wind
March 39 columnist Louella Parsons writes "Claire James, the almost national beauty queen, swathed in a silver fox coat down to the ground, getting plenty of admiring looks from the gents on the Para lot..."
August 39 is on hand to crown the new "Miss California," Janet Mantell, at a climax to the Mardi Gras festival in Venice, California
October 39 columnist Louella Parsons writes that Claire and Berkeley "are getting ready to announce the date"
December 39 poses for Lois Leeds' beauty column. "Be sure to follow the example of the film beauties by brushing your hair daily to keep it soft and gleaming."
February 40 has a Sardi's tete-a-tete with film dance director Busby Berkeley
April 40 the syndicated "Star Durst" column tells: "Want to see what happens to winners of beauty contests? Claire James, who was runner-up in the "Miss America" contest last year, is playing a bit in Paramount's The Ghost Breakers; she appears in a restaurant scene, wearing a floor-length dinner dress."
June 40 has a Hollywood romance with William Orr, the mimic in the Hollywood legit show "Meet the People"
41 is one of six starlets widely advertised as "The Navy Blues Sextet," for the film Navy Blues. The six beauties, including Marguerite Chapman, Leslie Brooks, Peggy Diggins, Kay Aldridge, and Georgia Carroll, are sent to Honolulu for the film's world premiere, then return to the mainland to make a cross-country junket, starting in Dallas, Texas, and ending in New York City, where Sherman Billingsley gives them a well-publicized party at his famous Stork Club.
January 41 replaces fellow glamour girl Pat Dane in the "Minnie from Trinidad" number of Ziegfeld Girl. There was some kind of argument.
April 41 gets engaged to Berkeley. "Wedding bells will ring in the fall."
noting her big close-ups in Ziegfeld Girl, columnist Jimmy Fidler suggests: "She's the director's (Busby Berkeley) fiancée."
May 41 she and Busby Berkeley set a September date to be married. She flashes a diamond sparkler, a wedding promise from Berkeley.
weighs 10 carats more in her street clothes, thanks to Busby Berkeley
replaces Alexis Smith in Navy Blues
Parsons reports her, "once Bus Berkeley's heartbeat, now concentrating on Bill Orr of Meet the People fame..."
June 41 is one of six starlets widely advertised as "The Navy Blues Sextet," for Navy Blues. The six beauties, including Marguerite Chapman, Leslie Brooks, Peggy Diggins, Kay Aldridge, and Georgia Carroll, are sent to Honolulu for the world premiere, then return to make a cross-country junket starting in Dallas, Texas, and ending in New York City, where Sherman Billingsley gives them a well-publicized party at his famous Stork Club.
August 41 producers Bill Pine and Bill Thomas choose her to play a corpse in their upcoming movie. "Miss James seemed a little uneasy about the assignment, but she agreed that it was a wonderful part when it was explained that the whole story revolved about her death and that people talked about her throughout the picture. She also had a close-up - a shot of one of her lifeless hands clutching a silver dollar."
September 41 columnist Louella Parsons writes: "Buz Berkeley and Claire James at the Copacabana remind us that they will be married before Christmas."
February 42 the press pictures her maintaining high U.S. morale: "Screen dancer Claire James dances away to keep consistent with the idea that victory will come if we supplement hard work with some genuine laughing and dancing."
March 42 her sister, Louise James, gets engaged to William Tracer
29 March 42 marries the ex of actresses Esther Muir and Merna Kennedy, motion picture dance director Busby Berkeley, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The ceremony is performed by a justice of the peace. He's 45; she's 22.
30 March 42 the press photographers catch her and Berkeley upon their arrival at Los Angeles Airport after their surprise marriage in Las Vegas
April 42 she and newlywed Berkeley have a problem. Her mama wants them to live with her. Busby wants a place of their own.
July 42 columnist Harrison Carroll denies the Claire James-Busby Berkeley separation rumors. According to Berkeley, they just bought a new home in Westwood. "I suppose the talk started because Claire sometimes spends the night at her mother's home, or I at my mother's. We do that just so they won't feel they are losing us," Berkeley says.
August 42 denies a marital rift with Berkeley
13 February 43 tells her attorney to file divorce proceedings against Berkeley. She says she doesn't want any alimony from her husband. "All I want is for him to finish paying for the mink coat and the auto he gave me."
Mid-March 43 will divorce Berkeley and refuses "to listen to any talk of a reconciliation..."
31 March 43 her husband's pleas fail to change her decision. She goes to court.
March 43 is granted annulment of her marriage to Berkeley. Berkeley will die at age 80 in 1976 in Palm Springs, California.
May 43 Parsons notes her "giving her smiles to Lieutenant Robert Dorsey at the House of Murphy..."
Late June 43 will marry Lieutenant Ray Dorsey as soon as he can get leave from his duties at March Field, California
marries advertising executive and army pilot Raymond Dorsey, son of a New York clothing manufacturer. He's 24; she's 23.
August 43 columnist Walter Winchell writes: "Busby Berkeley and ex-wife actress Claire James work half-way across the 20th Century-Fox lot from each other - which is about as close as they got during their marriage, too..."
Parsons reports her introducing Dorsey to the Mocambo diners
Early June 45 abandons plans to divorce Dorsey. Instead, she will accompany "her husband to New York, where she would work as a model."
June 45 the press reports her off to New York to talk with producer Mike Todd about a new show
Mid-June 45 Carl Laemmle, Jr., is torching for her
Mid-September 45 she and Dorsey part again. This time for good, she says.
October 45 divorced from Dorsey, she's expected to rewed Berkeley. The reason for her break-up with Dorsey was mother-in-law trouble.
Early November 45 she and Cary Grant have discovered each other
November 45 is seen at Mike Lyman's with Paul Ellis, the Texas oil millionaire
End November 45 wins a divorce from Dorsey, accusing him of being "a chronic fibber." She charges she learned his name really was Dewartsky and it ruined her happiness.
December 45 she and Cary Grant are "an occasional duet in the cinema city..."
is reported having gotten around to Raymond Hakim and stepping out with him
2 March 46 insists she is not engaged to associate film producer Bill Girard
Mid-March 46 the press advises to forget those engagement rumors about her and producer Bill Girard. Their romance has cooled. She was getting a lot of attention from actor Lew Ayres at a party the other night.
April 46 she and Girard start all over again
Parsons tells that "Claire James and Bill Girard are colder than Greenland's icy mountains and she has returned the ring..."
November 46 is seen at Ciro's with shoeman Harry Karl, the ex of actress Marie McDonald
columnist Louella Parsons asks: "The girl to whom Bill Girard was paying such ardent court at Mocambo was Raven McBride, the very pretty Selznick actress. Is his romance with Claire James now in the dear dead past?"
18 February 47 accompanied by a party of friends, she and Girard fly to Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier in the day in a chartered plane. In Las Vegas, she marries Girard in a 5 a.m. ceremony performed by a justice of the peace. The day after, they return to Hollywood. Girard was formerly married to singer-actress Helen Kane.
c. 20 May 47 announces in Hollywood that she and Girard separated after three months of marriage. "We've had a lot of quarrels," she says. "It got so I didn't know what would happen next."
September 47 renames herself Carol Stevens and will have a featured role in Lon McCarey's Good Sam
Early November 47 she and Girard are reported a Palm Springs twosome, "lovey-dovey as if they hadn’t filed for divorce"
November 47 estranged from her husband, Girard, she expects her baby on Christmas Day
29 January 48 she and Girard officially separate
10 March 48 seeks a divorce from Girard in Los Angeles charging mental cruelty and asking reasonable alimony and an equitable share of community property
April 48 columnist Dorothy Kilgallen notes that Steve Brodie "has gone on the rebound with Claire James, who is so sympathetic to his Lois Andrews problem..."
July 48 is expected to go to Reno in the immediate future to divorce Girard. Columnist Sheila Graham knows from Girard that a report elsewhere of his reconciliation with Claire was quite wrong.
August 48 Parsons tells that "Bill Girard and his estranged wife, Claire James, didn't look so estranged at the Ming Room where they were holding hands..."
December 48 the press notes that she and Girard spend more time together since their separation than they did when they were married
she and her ex, Girard, are seen at a table for two at Ciro's. "Those two must really love each other."
31 December 48 attends producer Sam Siegel’s New Year's Eve party at his home in Hollywood. S.P. Eagle ushers in the New Year with champagne and hot dogs for 650 celebrities. Among the guests: Charles Russell and Nancy Guild, James Mason, Van Heflin, George Sanders, Mrs. Eric Blore, Mrs. Vince Evans, Sir Charles Mendl, Mrs. Reginald Gardiner, Zsa Zsa Gabor Hilton, Oona O'Neill Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin, Eric von Leyden, Cathy O'Donnell, Farley Granger, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Jourdan, Barbara Freking, Count Ledebur, Eileen Howe, Nina Foch, Jean Louis, Judy Garland and Vincent Minnelli, Robert Siodmak, Shirley Temple, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Louella Parsons, Danny Kaye, and Hedda Hopper.
27 April 49 obtains a divorce from Girard in Los Angeles. He's 45; she's 29. She asks no alimony and claims that Girard refused to support her and that her father paid her medical bills when she was ill. Her mother, Mrs. Helen James, testifies that two weeks after her daughter's Las Vegas wedding Girard called her and said: "You'd better come and take your daughter home. I'm not interested."
September 49 columnist Louella Parsons asks: "Are Bill Girard and Claire James planning a reconciliation? Although they parted in bitterness they have been dating each other."
November 49 she and a girl companion leap from Claire's car just before it is demolished by a train near Palm Springs
is seen at Ciro's with movie industry financial advisor Dr. Kurt Grotter. 37-year-old Grotter is a former correspondent for a group of Czechoslovakian newspapers and the ex of actress Jean Parker.
3 May 50 receives her final divorce decree from Girard in Los Angeles. She testifies that a few days after their Las Vegas marriage in 1947 Girard suggested a Reno divorce.
August 50 is the escort of director Tay Garnett at the Mocambo
30 November 50 elopes with Dr. Peter L. Hoffman, a Los Angeles physician, to Tijuana, Mexico. He's 32; she's 30. The press gives her age as 27. It's his first marriage, and Claire's fourth. Hoffman says he met her four years ago.
1 December 50 the Hoffmans honeymoon in San Diego, California
December 50 rehearses for her TV shows. Her vocal teacher says she won't be ready for popular songs until she masters a few operatic arias.
28 February 51 she and Hoffman separate
2 March 51 Hoffman files for divorce from her in Los Angeles. He's 32; she's 30. He charges that she treated him so cruelly that he became convinced she no longer loved him.
3 March 51 indignantly denies charges that she was cruel to Hoffman. She says her mate stood 6 feet 4 and weighed over 200 pounds. "Why he's so big he could crush me with one hand." She charges that in a free-for-all at their home, the doctor ripped her clothes and knocked her down."
6 March 51 files a cross-complaint against Hoffman in Los Angeles charging cruelty and suing for separate maintenance. She asks $695 monthly support for herself and the child she expects in November.
23 March 51 at a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court she claims Hoffman broke down the door of her apartment after their separation three weeks ago, annoyed her by telephone and watched her through binoculars from a distance. Hoffman tells the court that she took surgical instruments from his office and has some of his jewelry and clothing in her apartment. Superior Judge Ben Rosenthal arranges with lawyers to be present when Hoffman searches her apartment in quest of his belongings. Hoffman is ordered to pay $340 monthly support pending trial of his divorce suit, which she is contesting with a separate maintenance action. Claire says she expects a child in November.
6 May 51 files a cross-complaint for separate maintainance. She asks for $695 in monthly support for herself and a child that is expected in November. Both suits charge cruelty.
30 October 51 her son, Blake James, is born in Los Angeles
November 51 the press expects a sensational court battle when she tells a judge about her hubby Hoffman on January 9th. Hoffman retains attorney Oscar Cummins and promises a hot fight.
Late November 51 columnist Walter Winchell tells that "intimates report that when actress Claire James tells a judge about hubby Dr. Peter Hoffman on January 8, the gazettes had better cover it..."
May 52 is a surprise twosome at the Crescendo with Dave Siegel
18 June 52 her "double-barreled hassle" with Hoffman comes to an end. Hoffman wins the divorce from her but is ordered to support the son he denies fathering with $150 a month. Judge Louis H. Burke also orders him to pay $1,750 to her for temporary alimony and $3,500 to her attorneys.
? after divorcing Hoffman she returns with her child to Ozeta Terrace
October 52 she and Hoffman are on the warpath again. She claims he isn't paying the $150 per month awarded her by the courts for the support of their child.
January 53 is back in the studio casting office files after her divorce from Hoffman. She explains: "I'm not career-conscious at all. But I have to work to support myself." Hoffman is in the Army at Ft. Pickett, Virginia.
8 April 53 Hoffman is sent to the Los Angeles jail when she contends he is $1,350 in arrears in payments for their 17-month-old son. The next day he's freed by the Army saying he was too badly needed at Ft. MacArthur Hospital to serve a term for falling behind in support payments.
April 53 is seen at the Sportsmen's Lodge with Robert Boos
May 53 is seen at Charley Foy's with Max Marks
15 May 53 Hoffman tells Court Commissioner Robert E. Brock that his $280 monthly Army base pay is insufficient to meet the court order to pay her $150 support monthly. He says he is willing to pay $25 monthly, but the court refuses to modify the order.
16 May 53 Hoffman is back in jail for three days to complete his five-day sentence for contempt for failure to support her son
24 May 53 her father dies at age 70 in Los Angeles
August 54 is seen at the Mocambo with Sol Bulasky
September 55 as a cosmetic consultant for Moisture Balance Corporation, she is announced to be at Barcus Rexall Drugs, Bellflower Boulevard and Spring Street, on September 3. "She will help with cosmetic problems and will demonstrate the correct use of products."
October 55 Parsons notes her "streamlined, covering the Mocambo with businessman Vic Cullen"
November 55 is Bob Kaufman's date at the Mocambo
21 February 56 her ill-fated competitor of 1938, Marilyn Meseke Hume, now of Coral Gables, Florida, sues her in Los Angeles Superior Court for representing herself as the winner of the beauty pageant. 38-year-old Hume asks for $130,000 damages and a court order forbidding Claire, 36, from identifying herself as "Miss America of 1938." The suit names Claire and Helaine Seagher of California, Inc., cosmetics distributors, as defendants. Mrs. Hume says Claire was representing herself as "Miss America of 1938" in doing promotion work for the cosmetics company.
March 56 will play a dime-a-dance hostess in wartime Honolulu in the upcoming The Revolt of Mamie Stover. Other hostesses are played by Kathy Marlowe, Merry Townsend, and Margarita Camacho.
April 56 her escort at the Eldorado is Chuck Bibbion
11 February 57 Hoffman's ordered by Los Angeles Superior Court to make $50 monthly payments for support of her son. Claire's granted a $20 increase from the $60 payments Hoffman has been making. In court he testifies that he doesn't know about the boy's age and that he had never seen him. "He's not my child," the doctor insists. Hoffman will die at age 64 in 1982 in Los Angeles.
November 58 is seen at the Eldorado with actor Jose Ferrer
December 58 Vince Callahan tells pals at the Eldorado that he proposed to her
March 59 is seen at the Eldorado with Vince Callahan
March 63 is reported added to the cast of Brainstorm at Warner Brothers
June 66 columnist Mike Connolly notes from Hollywood that she will make her comeback in Doris Day's Caprice as a lady "who ages 10 years in 20 seconds..."
70-80 is a daytime television player and an extra in the movies
27 December 80 her sister dies at age 59 in Los Angeles
? she and her son still live at Ozeta Terrace. Four of the bedrooms have been turned into closets for all of her amazing, silky wardrobe. Although her house at Ozeta Terrace has five bedrooms, she and Blake sleep in the same room. The house and the old Cadillacs in the garage slowly rot, and the curtains are always drawn.
18 January 86 as Claire W. James, she dies at age 65 at her Ozeta Terrace home from cirrhosis of the liver
? is interred at the James' family plot at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California
? leaves her son quite a bit of money. Being free of her at last, he spends it on drugs.
2 September 87 her son, Blake James Hoffman, is killed at age 35 in a car crash in Santa Monica. He and the girl who is driving his car, are too on drugs to notice the stopped panel truck and crash into it at 60 mph. He dies on impact.
? after her and her son's death, her brother, Robert James, has two 40-ft. dumpsters delivered to her Ozeta Terrace home and tosses everything out. Later, English actor Julian Sands will buy the estate.
06 her and her family's story is told in Dandelion, an upcoming book by Catherine James
Catherine James, The New York Times, Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star, Reno Evening Gazette, The Herald-Press, Soda Springs Sun, The Chronicle-Telegram, Syracuse Herald-Journal, The Daily Independent, Nevada State Journal, Middletown Times Herald, The Lethbridge Herald, Lowell Sun and Citizen-Leader, The Zanesville Signal, Lincoln Journal, Iowa City Press-Citizen, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, Edwardsville Intelligencer, Joplin Globe, The Era, Waukesha Daily Freeman, Pottstown Mercury, Portland Press Herald, Van Nuys News, The Monessen Daily Independent, Dixon Evening Telegraph, Daily Redlands Facts, Salamanca Republican-Press, The Fresno Bee, Long Beach Independent, Winnipeg Free Press, The Circleville Herald, Soda Springs Sun, The Charleston Gazette, Oakland Tribune, The Frederick Post, The Pinedale Roundup, The Dothan Eagle, The Modesto Bee, Indiana Evening Gazette, Middletown Times Herald, Austin Daily Herald, The Newark Advocate and American Tribune, The Vidette-Messenger, San Mateo Times, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Kirk Crivello,,
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