Friday, July 10, 2009

Mae Clarke | Famous grapefruit in the face scene with Cagney

Mae Clarke (August 16, 1910 – April 29, 1992) was born Violet Mary Klotz in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was an American film actress. She started her career as a dancer and subsequently starred in many films for Universal Studios, including the original screen version of The Front Page (1931) and the first sound version of Frankenstein (1931) with Boris Karloff. Clarke played the role of Dr. Frankenstein's fiancee in Frankenstein, who was attacked by the Monster (Karloff) on her wedding day.

The Public Enemy, released that same year, contained one of cinema's most famous (and frequently parodied) scenes, in which James Cagney pushed a half grapefruit into Clarke's face, then went out and picked up Jean Harlow. The film was so popular that it ran 24 hours a day at a theatre in Times Square upon its initial release, and Clarke's ex-husband had the grapefruit scene timed and would frequently buy a ticket, enter the theatre to enjoy that sequence, then leave the theatre.

She may be best known for her leading role as, "Myra Deauville," in the 1931 pre-Code version of, Waterloo Bridge. In the film, she portrays a young American woman who is forced by circumstance into a life of prostitution in World War I London. Both the film and Clarke's performance were well received by the critics.

She also appeared in the modest pre-code Universal film Night World (1932), with Lew Ayres, Boris Karloff, and Hedda Hopper.

By the mid-1930s though, Clarke was no longer a leading lady and was only featured in small or bit parts through the 1960s.

Mae Clarke was featured today on TCM in three films,

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