Dora Clement

Active - 1934 - 1942  |   Born - May 30, 1891   |   Genres - Comedy, Romance, Drama, Musical

Share on

Biography by Bruce Eder

Dora Clement (sometimes credited as Dora Clemant) spent most of her professional acting career in the far west of the United States, where she was born, in Spokane, WA, in 1891. The tall, elegant actress -- who made one think of Frieda Inescourt -- was in almost 700 plays before making her Broadway debut in November 1944 in the original cast of Harvey as Betty Chumley (the role played by Nana Bryant in the 1950 movie). By that time, she was no longer doing movies, having been in some 73 of them (usually in uncredited roles) between 1934 and 1942. Most of her movie work involved small roles with no more than a day -- or, at most, a few days' -- shooting at a time, and Clement was able to squeeze them in around acting in the theater and also lecturing and teaching about theater. She usually played smaller roles that required dignity and distinctly middle-aged beauty -- mothers, society matrons, middle-level female executives, and secretaries -- in bigger movies, such as a saleslady in Mitchell Leisen's Easy Living (1937) or the woman under the sunlamp in George Cukor's The Women (1939). She was called by all of the major studios at one time or another, including Fox, MGM, Paramount, and Columbia, but she seemed to get some of her best roles at Universal, most notably in Buck Privates (1941), Abbott & Costello's debut starring vehicle. She actually had three major scenes in that picture (one of them excellent) as Miss Durling, the woman in charge of the camp hostesses (which include co-stars Jane Frazee and the Andrews Sisters). And Clement's most important movie role in terms of plot -- also at Univeral -- was in one of the lowest budgeted vehicles in which she ever appeared, as Ann Zorka, the beloved wife of Bela Lugosi's mad scientist Alex Zorka, in the serial The Phantom Creeps (1939). Her character's death, caused accidentally by her husband in the second chapter -- when he disables a plane carrying the government agents pursuing him (on which his wife, unbeknownst to him, also happens to be traveling) -- pushes Zorka over the edge, to seek revenge on the entire world for the next 10 chapters. In the early '50s, she made a few appearances in various early television dramas and on anthology shows such as Philco Television Playhouse and Goodyear Television Playhouse, but she had retired from that medium, as well, by the middle of the decade. She reportedly passed away a quarter century later in Washington, D.C.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography