Stage & Screen Artist
Born November 10, 1889, London, England
Died May 30, 1967, Sandwich, New Hampshire
Claude Rains must be reckoned among the finest actors who ever played in films.-David Shipman
Claude Rains was a brilliant character actor, known for his versatility and suave aristocratic charm. Although he played a diverse range of roles, Rains was best known for his villainous portrayals. He earned a reputation for his inability to do a bad performance, and for the rich, deep voice that was his trademark. The son of British actor Frederick William Rains, Claude began his dramatic career at the age of eleven, working as a call-boy at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. During the next several years he worked as a prompter and then as a stage director, before earning acclaim as an actor on the British, and, subsequently, the American stage. Turning to Hollywood in 1933, Rains made his film debut in The Invisible Man. He acted in many classic movies, earning Academy Award nominations for his performances in Casablanca, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mr. Skeffington, and Notorious. He also worked extensively in radio and television. Although Rains was initially a British citizen, having been born in London and wounded while serving in the British army during World War I, he obtained American citizenship in 1938. He often did patriotic readings and performances to benefit American causes. When Rains wasn't acting, he was farming. He raised pigs and cattle, and grew grain, initially in Lambertville, New Jersey, and subsequently in Chester County, Pennsylvania.