Charismatic, inspired, improvisatory, eccentric, galvanic--there was no woman on the Broadway stage more admired by other performers during her active career. Considered by some critics to have been the finest comedienne to have played on Broadway during the 20th century, Ina Claire radiated chic, fun, and adventure at one in the same moment. Emerging as a star in the 1916 Ziegfeld Follies, Claire enjoyed repeated success on stage and screen, always excelling in comedy, but capable of serious drama, and lyrical fantasy.
Though each of Claire's nine films was a personal success, particularly "Ninochtka," she preferred acting live. Her film career was interrupted in the late 1920s with her spectacularly disastrous marriage to a self-destructing John Gilbert.
Claire's instinct for the dramatic possibilities of dialogue made her the most astute judge of comedy scripts in show business, and from 1922's "The Awful Truth" to 1954's "The Confidential Clerk" by T.S. Eliot, she enjoyed a singular run of success. Her trio of S.N. Behrman plays for the Theater Guild, 'Biography,' 'End of Summer,' and 'The Talley Method' were considered by critics one of the finest collaborations of author and performer shown on the American stage. David S. Shields/ALS