Clifton Webb

Actor, Dancer, Singer
With his trademark pencil mustache and attitude of thinly-veiled disdain, Clifton Webb was a blast of asexual sophistication during Hollywood's testosterone-fueled postwar epoch. A ballroom dancer and stage actor who ... Read more »
Born: 11/18/1891 in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Filmography

Actor (18)

Satan Never Sleeps 1961 (Movie)

Father Bovard (Actor)

The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker 1959 (Movie)

Pa Pennypacker (Actor)

Holiday For Lovers 1958 (Movie)

Robert Dean (Actor)

Boy on a Dolphin 1957 (Movie)

Victor Parmalee (Actor)

The Man Who Never Was 1956 (Movie)

Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu (Actor)

Three Coins in the Fountain 1954 (Movie)

Shadwell (Actor)

Woman's World 1954 (Movie)

Gifford (Actor)

Cheaper by the Dozen 1950 (Movie)

Frank Bunker Gilbreth (Actor)

Belles on Their Toes (Movie)

Frank Gilbreth (Actor)

Dreamboat (Movie)

Thornton Sayre (Actor)

Elopement (Movie)

Howard Osborne (Actor)

For Heaven's Sake (Movie)

Charles (Actor)

Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (Movie)

Lynn Belvedere (Actor)

Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell (Movie)

Lynn Belvedere (Actor)

Sitting Pretty (Movie)

Lynn Belvedere (Actor)

Stars and Stripes Forever (Movie)

John Philip Sousa (Actor)

The Dark Corner (Movie)

Hardy Cathcart (Actor)

The Still Alarm (Movie)

(Actor)

Biography

With his trademark pencil mustache and attitude of thinly-veiled disdain, Clifton Webb was a blast of asexual sophistication during Hollywood's testosterone-fueled postwar epoch. A ballroom dancer and stage actor who contributed appearances to some silent and early sound films, Webb made a belated return to cinema with an Oscar-nominated performance in Otto Preminger's "Laura" (1944), as acidic murder suspect Waldo Lydecker. Character and actor were so well-matched that Webb would go on to play a string of similarly supercilious supporting and principal characters in a film career as brilliant as it was brief. Effete to the extreme, he was nonetheless an imposing screen presence whose haughty mien could overshadow such manly leads as William Holden, Dana Andrews, Alan Ladd and Tyrone Power while stealing focus from the luscious likes of Gene Tierney, Ginger Rogers, Lauren Bacall and Sophia Loren. The actor's barely concealed homosexuality precluded him from playing many Hollywood husbands, but he proved a surprisingly persuasive paterfamilias, most notably in the family comedy "Cheaper by the Dozen" (1950) and in the proto disaster flick "Titanic" (1953), in which Webb and onscreen wife Barbara Stanwyck put aside their differences in a desperate bid to save their children from death at sea. Long devoted to his aging mother, with whom he lived and who passed away in 1960, Webb retired from acting in 1962. His death in 1966 robbed Hollywood of one of its most unforgettable characters, both on and offscreen.

Relationships

Maybelle Hollenbeck

Mother
died in 1960 at age 90 reportedly left her husband when Webb was three to pursue show business career served as secretary and mananger of the Webb Dance Studio in the 1910s

EDUCATION

attended dancing school as a child

studied singing with Victor Maurel and painting

Milestones

1966

Was operated on to remove intestinal blockage in May

1963

Underwent abdominal surgery

1961

Retired due to ill health

1950

Made motion picture exhibitors' poll of top ten boxoffice stars; placed 7th

1943

"Laura" is made, and Webb becomes an unexpected movie star

1941

While touring in Noel Coward's "Blithe Spirit" called to Hollywood to star in "Laura"

1936

Signed by MGM at weekly salary of $3,000; stayed 18-months without making a picture

1920

Film acting debut, "Polly With a Past"

1917

Musical comedy debut, ""Love O'Mike"

1913

Made operetta debut in "The Purple Road" in New York

1912

Performed with the Aborn Opera Company in "Madama Butterfly" and "Hansel and Gretel"

1911

Made operatic debut in "Mignon" at the Back Bay Opera House in Boston

1900

Made formal theatrical debut as "Cholly" in "The Brownies" at Carnegie Hall

Dramatic stage debut, "Meet the Wife" opposite Mary Boland

Appeared on Broadway opposite Marilyn Miller in "Sunny", Beatrice Lillie in "She's My Baby" and Gertrude Lawrence in "Treasure Girl

Teamed with Bonnie Glass in a dancing act while he also taught dancing privately at the Webb Dance Studio; later teamed with Jenny Dolly and Mae Murray as ballroom dancer

Returned to stage

Gave first one-man art show at age 14

Bonus Trivia

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"Mr. Webb, whose theatrical career spanned more than half a century, was known for his impeccable diction and his elegant taste in clothes. He was credited with having introduced into the American man's wardrobe such items as the white messcoat dinner jacket, the double-breasted vest and the red carnation boutonniere."--"New York Times" obituary, October 15, 1966

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"Off-screen, Webb was no less a fascinating character, madly devoted to his mother Maybelle with whom he traveled everywhere, and in the best social circles (later drawing some parallels to the Violet and Sebastian characters drawn by Tennessee Williams in 'Suddenly, Last Summer'.) They were by all odds the closest mother-and-son act in show business, so much so that when Maybelle died in 1960, Webb--then nearly--70--moped so long and frantically, Noel Coward began referring to him as 'the world's oldest living orphan.'"--Robert Osborne ("Hollywood Reporter", November 19, 1991)

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