Claire Adams

Claire Adams (24 September 1898 – 25 September 1978) was a silent film actress and benefactor. She was born in Canada, studied there and in England, and developed a movie career in Hollywood, marrying a producer.

Claire Adams
Adams in 1925
Born(1898-09-24)24 September 1898
Died25 September 1978(1978-09-25) (aged 80)
Years active1912-1963
Benjamin B. Hampton
(m. 1924; died 1932)

Donald John Scobie Mackinnon
(m. 1932; died 1974)

Early years

Beryl Vere Nassau Adams, known as Claire Adams was born on 24 September 1898, in Winnipeg, Manitoba,[1] the daughter of Stanley Wells Adams, a Welsh-born accountant, and his Canadian wife, Lillian Adams (née Kennedy).[2] Educated in Canada and England,[1] her parents divorced when Adams was a child, but the family was reunited two decades later when Adams and her mother went to live with Adams' father and her stepmother.[2]

Adams worked briefly as a nurse with the Red Cross during World War I. The Salina Evening Journal reported 25 December 1920 that: "During the war she became a nurse in a Detroit hospital, training for the Red Cross, but at the end of a year her health was broken down and she was sent home."[3]


In 1920, Adams signed a five-year contract with Benjamin Bowles Hampton, a Hollywood producer and her future husband. She later moved to California where she acted in more than 40 silent films, including melodramas, comedies and westerns.

Described as "patricianly beautiful," Adams worked with many of Hollywood's leading actors, including Adolphe Menjou, Tom Mix, Wallace Beery, and Lon Chaney. In 1923 she was Rin Tin Tin's leading lady in Where the North Begins, which was a huge success and is often credited with saving Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. She later maintained that Rin Tin Tin was her "favourite leading man".[4]

Her best-known film was The Big Parade, the second-highest-grossing silent film in cinematic history. It was directed by King Vidor, and Adams had a major role, alongside John Gilbert and Renée Adorée. Perhaps her most memorable role was in the 1920 film The Penalty, in which she played Barbara, the artist who helps humanise the crippled crime boss played by Lon Chaney .

Personal life

Adams married Hampton, 21 years her senior, in Hollywood on 18 September 1924. They had no children. He died in 1932 leaving her very wealthy. In 1937, Adams met Donald John Scobie Mackinnon (always known as Scobie), the second son of wealthy Australian newspaper manager, grazier and racehorse owner, Lauchlan ("L.K.S.") Mackinnon, at a party in London, and three weeks later, on 1 April, they married in Mayfair.[5]

After a protracted honeymoon, Mackinnon brought Adams to Victoria, Australia in March 1938. The couple divided their time between Mooramong, their Western District grazing property, and their Melbourne townhouse at 220 Domain Road South Yarra. They entertained often at Mooramong, which they transformed from a staid Victorian homestead into a Jazz Age showpiece. On their frequent trips to Melbourne to attend the races and innumerable cocktail parties, they travelled in their Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. Adorned in smart hats and chic outfits, and often graced with diamonds, Adams was an exotic figure at Government House functions and at the racecourse.[5]

On his death in 1974, Scobie Mackinnon's estate, worth A$2,111,729, was left entirely to Adams. The marriage was childless.[5]


Adams died on 25 September 1978, in Windsor, Victoria, aged 80, and was cremated.[1] After generous bequests to family, friends, and animal welfare bodies, she left the remainder of her estate to the National Trust of Victoria for the creation of a wildlife sanctuary and fauna and flora park at Mooramong.[5]


She was a life governor of Skipton Hospital and vice president of Lort Smith Hospital for sick animals.


1934What a Mother-in-Law!Frances
Married AliveViola Helmesley Duxbury
The Lunatic
1926The Sea WolfMaud Brewster
The Combat
Yellow FingersNona Deering
1925The Big ParadeJustyn Reed
The WheelKate O'Hara
Souls for SablesHelen Ralston[6]Uncredited
The Kiss BarrierMarion Weston
Men and WomenAgnes Prescott
The Devil's CargoMartha Joyce
1924The Brass BowlSylvia
The Fast SetFay Colleen
The Painted FlapperEunice Whitney
Helen's BabiesHelen Lawrence
Oh, You Tony!Betty Faine
Honor Among MenPatricia Carson
The Girl in the LimousineThe Girl
Missing DaughtersClaire Mathers
The Night HawkClia Milton
DaddiesBobette Audrey
1923The Clean UpPhyllis Andrews
Legally DeadMinnie O'Reilly
Where the North BeginsFelice McTavish
Stepping FastHelen Durant
Brass CommandmentsEllen Bosworth
The Scarlet CarBeatrice Forbes
1922Do and DareJuanita Sánchez
Heart's HavenVivian Breed
Just TonyMarianne Jordan
Golden DreamsMercedes McDonald
When Romance RidesLucy Bostil
The Gray DawnNan Bennett
1921The Mysterious RiderColumbine
Man of the ForestHelen Raynor
A Certain Rich ManMolly Culpepper
The Lure of EgyptMargaret Lampton
Black BeautyClaire Adams is not in the Vitagraph film. She appeared in a competing rival version of the story produced by Eskay Harris Feature Film Company.[7]
The KillerRuth Emory
The SpendersAvice Milbrey
1920The Dwelling Place of LightJanet Butler
The PenaltyBarbara
Riders of the DawnLenore Anderson
The White DoveElla De FriesCredited as Clare Adams
The Key to PowerAnn Blair
The Money ChangersLucy Hegan
The Great LoverEthel
1919The Invisible BondLeila TempletonAlso known as Should a Wife Forgive? (USA)
A Misfit EarlPhyllis Burton
Speedy MeadeAlice Hall
The End of the RoadMary Lee
1918The Spirit of the Red CrossEthel
Adam and Some Eves
The Man-EaterCredited as Peggy Adams
1917Nutty Knitters
Faint Heart and Fair Lady
Your Obedient Servant
Chris and His Wonderful LampBetty
1913The Widow's SuitorsCredited as Clara Adams
Boy WantedAs Clara Adams
A Shower of SlippersAs Clara Adams
Aunt Elsa's VisitAs Clara Adams
The Office Boy's BirthdayAs Clara Adams
Bragg's New SuitAs Clara Adams
1912Kitty at Boarding School
Revenge Is SweetAs Clara Adams
The Artist's JokeAs Clara Adams
An Intelligent Camera
Apple PiesAs Clara Adams
Kitty's Holdup
Eddie's ExploitAs Clara Adams
Curing the Office BoyAs Clara Adams
A Heroic RescueAs Clara Adams


  1. Katchmer, George A. (2002). A Biographical Dictionary of Silent Film Western Actors and Actresses. McFarland. p. 2. ISBN 9781476609058. Retrieved 4 September 2016.
  2. "Actress Plays Reuniting Role". Oakland Tribune. California, Oakland. 7 July 1932. p. 1. Retrieved 3 September 2016 via
  3. "Among the Movie Stars". The Salina Evening Journal. Kansas, Salina. 25 December 1920. p. 14. Retrieved 3 September 2016 via
  4. McCallum, Bonnie (1978). ales Untold: Memoirs of an ABC Publicity Officer. Melbourne: Hawthorn Press. p. 32.
  5. Maxwell, Virginia. "Mackinnon, Donald John Scobie (1906–1974)". Austrailan Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  6. Souls for Sables Cast Information
  7. Black Beauty (II) produced by Eskay Harris Feature Film Company..retrieved June 16, 2018
  • Photoplay Dec,1924
  • Film Index, No 3, 1970, p. 12
  • Social History Report on Morramong, Skipton by D. Hellier (1989). National Trust of Australia, Victoria branch.

Archival collections


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