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For other people named Clarence Brown, see Clarence Brown (disambiguation).
Clarence Brown
Clarence Brown 1921.jpg
Born Clarence Leon Brown
(1890-05-10)May 10, 1890
Clinton, Massachusetts
Died August 17, 1987(1987-08-17) (aged 97)
Santa Monica, California
Spouse(s) Paul Herndon Pratt (1 daughter)
Ona Wilson
Mona Maris
Alice Joyce
Marian Spies

Clarence Leon Brown (May 10, 1890 – August 17, 1987) was an American film director.

Early life[edit]

Born in Clinton, Massachusetts, to a cotton manufacturer, Brown moved to the South when he was 11. He attended Knoxville High School[1] and the University of Tennessee, both in Knoxville, Tennessee, graduating from the university at the age of 19 with two degrees in engineering. An early fascination in automobiles led Brown to a job with the Stevens-Duryea Company, then to his own Brown Motor Car Company in Alabama. He later abandoned the car dealership after developing an interest in motion pictures around 1913. He was hired by the Peerless Studio at Fort Lee, New Jersey, and became an assistant to the French-born director Maurice Tourneur.


After serving in World War I, Brown was given his first co-directing credit (with Tourneur) for The Great Redeemer (1920). Later that year, he directed a major portion of The Last of the Mohicans after Tourneur was injured in a fall.

Brown moved to Universal in 1924, and then to MGM, where he stayed until the mid-1950s. At MGM he was one of the main directors of their female stars–he directed Joan Crawford six times and Greta Garbo seven.

He not only made the difficult transition from silent cinema to sound cinema, but thrived there, proving himself to be an "actor's director": listening to his actors, respecting their instincts, and often incorporating their suggestions into scenes. In doing so, Brown created believable, under-played, naturalistic dialogue scenes stripped of melodrama, pulsing with the honest rhythms of real-life conversation. He was nominated five times (see below) for the Academy Award as a director, and once as a producer, but never received an Oscar. However, he did win Best Foreign Film for Anna Karenina starring Garbo at the 1935 Venice International Film Festival.

Brown's films gained a total of 38 Academy Award nominations and earned nine Oscars. Brown himself received six Academy Award nominations and in 1949 won the British Academy Award for the film version of William Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust.

In 1957, Brown was awarded The George Eastman Award, given by George Eastman House for distinguished contribution to the art of film.

Brown retired a wealthy man due to his real estate investments, but refused to watch new movies, as he feared they might cause him to restart his career. In the 1970s, Brown became a much-sought guest lecturer on the film-festival circuit, thanks in part to his connection with Garbo.

The Clarence Brown Theater, on the campus of the University of Tennessee, is named in his honor. He is tied with Robert Altman and Alfred Hitchcock for the most Academy Award nominations for best director without a single win.


NOTE: In 1929/1930, Brown received one Academy Award nomination for two films. According to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, "As allowed by the award rules for this year, a single nomination could honor work in one or more films."


  • Brownlow, Kevin. "Clarence Brown" in The Parade's Gone By New York: Knopf, 1968
  • "The Hollywood Professionals, Vol. 6: Frank Capra, George Cukor, Clarence Brown" by Allen Estrin, AS Barnes, 1980
  • An Extraordinary Town, How one of America's smallest towns shaped the world - A Historical Marketing Book by A. J. Bastarache. Featuring a comprehensive section on Clarence Brown.
  • Young, Gwenda. 'Clarence Brown: From Knoxville to Hollywood and Back'. Journal of East Tennessee History', 2002. 73 :53-73

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Brown — Please support Wikipedia.
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1231 news items

Knoxville News Sentinel

Knoxville News Sentinel
Sat, 21 Feb 2015 15:35:41 -0800

It's been some time since Clarence Brown gave us a Shakespeare performance. A student-cast production of “Will Power” with scenes from various Shakespearean works was done in the small Lab Theatre during the 2012-13 season. But the last entire ...
Broadway World
Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:18:45 -0800

Knoxville native and University of Tennessee alumnus, John Cullum, will be awarded the CBT Artistic Excellence Award at the Clarence Brown Theatre's annual Gala to be held June 7, 2015 from 6:30 - 10:00 pm at RT Lodge, 1406 Wilkinson Pike in Maryville, ...
Sat, 07 Feb 2015 20:52:30 -0800

As Clarence Brown Community School Principal Kristen Salina walks down the hallway past a line of students, one boy happily gives her a thumbs-up and tells her he's having a great day. The staff at the small special education school on a residential ...

Knoxville daily sun

Knoxville daily sun
Thu, 05 Feb 2015 09:03:45 -0800

The course of love definitely does NOT run smooth when William Shakespeare's family-friendly comedy “A Midsummer Night's Dream” plays on the Clarence Brown Theatre main stage February 19 through March 8, 2015. An Open Captioned performance will ...

Irish Times

Tennessee Journalist
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 19:22:30 -0800

William Shakespeare's comedy “A Midsummer Night's Dream” will be playing at the Clarence Brown Theater from Feb. 20 to March 8. This timeless play tells the story of four young Athenians trying to navigate the ways of love and marriage. When a romantic ...
Broadway World
Wed, 18 Feb 2015 09:14:08 -0800

All performances of "Master Harold"...and the Boys will run as scheduled. A Midsummer Night's Dream opens on the Clarence Brown Theatre Mainstage Friday, February 20 and runs through March 8, 2015. An Open Captioned performance will take place on ...

Knoxville News Sentinel

Knoxville News Sentinel
Sat, 14 Feb 2015 09:48:45 -0800

Curtis Craig has been determining just what magic sounds like in the upcoming Clarence Brown production of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The sound designer and composer is creating the sound that weaves through the University ...


Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:52:30 -0800

Clarence Brown reshot several scenes. The final product has little of Tolstoy, and the film's primary purposes are to show several scenes of stunt riders doing tricks on horses and many shots of Gilbert throwing back his shoulders and laughing. Great ...

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