All articles and pages may contain affiliate links. You can read our disclosure policy here.



Build Thy House



The Invisible Man



Crime Without Passion

The Man Who Reclaimed His Head



The Mystery of Edwin Drood

The Clairvoyant

The Last Outpost




Hearts Divided

Anthony Adverse



Stolen Holiday

The Prince and the Pauper

They Won’t Forget



White Banners

Gold is Where You Find It

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Four Daughters



They Made Me a Criminal


 Sons of Liberty

 Daughters Courageous

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Four Wives



Saturday’s Children

The Sea Hawk

Lady with Red Hair



Four Mothers

Here Comes Mr. Jordan

The Wolf Man



Kings Row


Now, Voyager




Forever and a Day

Phantom of the Opera



Passage to Marseille

Mr. Skeffington



Strange Holiday

This Love of Ours

Caesar and Cleopatra




Angel on My Shoulder




The Unsuspected



The Passionate Friends

Rope of Sand

Song of Surrender



The White Tower

 Where Danger Lives



Sealed Cargo



The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By






The Pied Piper of Hamelin



This Earth Is Mine



The Lost World



Battle of the Worlds



Lawrence of Arabia



Twilight of Honor



The Greatest Story Ever Told


He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor four times

1940 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

1944 Casablanca

1945 Mr. Skeffington

1947 Notorious

Often we’d secretly like to do the very things we discipline ourselves against. Isn’t that true? Well, here in the movies I can be as mean, as wicked as I want to – and all without hurting anybody. ~ Claude Rains

Claude Rains: Learn more about him, review his filmography and more

Biographies, Actors

Claude Rains was born in London, England. Following his stage debut at age eleven, Claude learned the business side of the theatre business while honing his acting skills. Rains decided to come to America in 1913 and the New York theater, but with the outbreak of World War I the next year, he returned to serve with a Scottish regiment in Europe. He remained in England, further honing his acting talents. It was not long before his talent garnered him acknowledgment as one of the leading stage actors on the London scene.

In the meantime, Rains was in demand as acting teacher as well, and he taught at the Royal Academy. Young and eager Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud were perhaps his best known students. Rains did return to New York in 1927 to begin what would be nearly 20 Broadway roles. While working for the Theater Guild, he was offered a screen test with Universal Pictures in 1932. Universal was embarking on its new-found role as horror film factory, and they were looking for someone unique for their next outing, The Invisible Man (1933). Rains was the man.

By 1936, he was at Warner Bros. where is his malicious, gouty Don Luis in Anthony Adverse (1936) was inspired. After a shear lucky opportunity to dispatch his young wife’s lover, Louis Hayward, in a duel, he triumphs over her in a scene with derisive, bulging eyes and that high pitched laugh — with appropriate shadow and light backdrop — that is unforgettable.

He was kept very busy through the remainder of the 1930s with a mix of benign and devious historical, literary, and contemporary characters always adapting a different nuance — from murmur to growl — of that voice to become the person. He culminated the decade with his complex, ethics-tortured Senator “Joe” Paine in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). That year he became an American citizen.

Into the 1940s, Rains had risen to perhaps unique stature: a supporting actor who had achieved A-list stardom — almost in a category by himself. His some 40 films during that period ranged from subtle comedy to psychological drama with a bit of horror revisited; many would become golden era classics. He was the firm but thoroughly sympathetic Dr. Jaquith in Now, Voyager (1942) and the smoothly sardonic Capt. Louis Renault, perhaps his best known role, in Casablanca (1942). He was the surreptitiously nervous and malignant Alexander Sebastian in Notorious (1946) and the egotistical and domineering conductor Alexander Hollenius in Deception (1946). He was the disfigured Phantom of the Opera (1943) as well. He played opposite the challenging Bette Davis in three movies through the decade and came out her equal in acting virtuosity. He was nominated four times for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar — but never won.

With the 1950s the few movies left to an older Rains were countered by venturing into new acting territory — television. His haunted, suicidal writer Paul DeLambre in the mountaineering adventure The White Tower (1950), though a modest part, was perhaps the most memorable film role of his later years. He made a triumphant Broadway return in 1951’s “Darkness at Noon.”

Rains embraced the innovative TV playhouse circuit with nearly 20 roles. As a favored ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ alumnus, he starred in five Alfred Hitchcock Presents suspense dramas into the 1960s. And he did not shy away from episodic TV either with some memorable roles that still reflected the power of Claude Rains as consummate actor.

Rains became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1939. He married six times, and was divorced from the first five of his wives: Isabel Jeans (married 1913–1915); Marie Hemingway (to whom Rains was married for less than a year in 1920); Beatrix Thomson (1924–April 8 1935); Frances Propper (April 9 1935 – 1956); and the classical pianist Agi Jambor (November 1959 – 1960). In 1960, he married Rosemary Clark Schrode, to whom he was married until her death on December 31 1964. His only child, Jennifer, was born on January 24 1938, the daughter of Frances Propper. As an actress, she is known as Jessica Rains.

He acquired the 380-acre (1.5 km2) Stock Grange Farm, built in 1747 in West Bradford Township, Pennsylvania (just outside Coatesville), in 1941, this became one of the “great prides” of his life. Here, he became a “gentleman farmer” and could relax and enjoy farming life with his then wife (Frances) churning the butter, their daughter collecting the eggs with Rains himself, plowing the fields and cultivating the vegetable garden. He spent much of his time between film takes reading up on agricultural techniques to try when he got home. He sold the farm when his marriage to Propper ended in 1956, the building now, as then, is still referred to by locals as “Rains’ Place”. Rains spent his final years in Sandwich, New Hampshire.

In his final years, Rains decided to write his memoirs and engaged the help of journalist Jonathan Root to assist him. Rains’ declining health delayed their completion and with Root’s death in March 1967 the project was never completed. Rains died from an abdominal haemorrhage in Laconia on May 30 1967, aged 77, his daughter said “And, just like most actors, he died waiting for his agent to call.” He was buried at the Red Hill Cemetery in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. He designed his own tombstone which reads “All things once, Are things forever, Soul, once living, lives forever”


In Our Bookstore