Clarence Brown, Director of Garbo, Gable, Dies at 97

Clarence Brown, one of Hollywood’s most prolific directors, who enhanced the careers of such diverse stars as Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Norma Shearer and Elizabeth Taylor, has died at age 97, it was learned today.

Brown died late Monday night at St. John’s Medical Center of kidney failure. He had been retired since the early 1950s.

His work defied labeling for he was a “woman’s director” for Garbo, Louise Dresser and Vilma Banky, a “man’s director” for Gable and Lionel Barrymore (who won an Academy Award for Brown’s “A Free Soul”) and also was considered one of the industry’s finest director of children. Such then youngsters as Taylor (“National Velvet”), Claude Jarman Jr. (“The Yearling”) and Butch Jenkins (“The Human Comedy”) perfected their craft under his tutelage.

“The truth,” he said in a 1977 interview, “is that I was a company man--someone who shot the story he was assigned as well as I could and went on to the next thing and did that as well as I could, too. . . . “

Brown was an automotive engineer when he became attracted to films in 1915.


In all he made more than 50 of them, beginning with “The Great Redeemer” in 1920 and ending with “Never Let Me Go” in 1953. His best known works include “Ah Wilderness!,” “Anna Christie,” “The Rains Came” and “Intruder in the Dust.”