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Iowa History Daily: December 29 - Claire Dodd

Iowa History Daily: On December 29, 1908, member of the Ziegfeld Follies and and famous film actress of the 1930s and 1940s Claire Dodd was born in Baxter. Over a whirlwind career spanning a dozen years, Dodd appeared in more than sixty films.

Born Dorothy Arlene Dodd to Jasper County pioneers Walter and Ethel Dodd, the future actress only spent a brief portion of her childhood in the Hawkeye State. As the family bounced from Iowa to Colorado, Arizona, and Montana, the relationship between Dodd’s parents faltered. In 1927, the 16 year old Dodd headed for Hollywood where she started out on a career in show business.

Although some sources list Dodd’s birthplace as Des Moines, the confusion stems from the actress’s own vague memories of her tumultuous childhood. “My early childhood was a blur to me…I don’t remember a thing about Iowa. I’m sorry to say. I was so small when I left there.” Numerous relatives in and around Baxter confirmed the birth of the actress in the small town during 1908.

After catching Florenz Ziegfeld’s attention in a bit part in a film called “Whoopee!,” a stint with the Ziegfeld Follies led to a five-year contract with Paramount Pictures. From 1930 to 1942 she often played supporting actress roles as a type of femme fatale or seductress as she appeared in over sixty films. Perhaps best known as Perry Mason’s secretary Della Street opposite Warren Williams. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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