Adrienne Ames: Classy Dame

I am certain that it was her performance as “the Countess” in WC Fields‘ You’re Telling Me (1934) that made me first sit up and take notice of the gorgeous Adrienne Ames (Ruth Adrienne McClure, 1907-1947). She was in a scant 30 films over a dozen year period.

Originally from Texas, Ames was EXTREMELY young when she married her first husband, an oil heir named Derward Truex in 1920 (13 years of age, in fact). The pair divorced in 1924, and I’m assume that’s what gave her the wherewithal to take herself to Hollywood, where she began to find work as a model and as Pola Negri’s stand-in. She began getting speaking parts in films in 1931. In addition to You’re Telling Me, you can see her in good parts in Merrily We Go To Hell (1932), The Death Kiss (1932), George White’s Scandals (1934) and Harmony Lane (1935). From 1933 through 1935 she was married to Bruce Cabot of King Kong. Stardom seemed not to be her portion however. Her last film was Republic’s The Zero Hour (1939), in which she was third billed. She was also in I Take This Woman (1940) with Heddy Lamar and Spencer Tracy, but her scenes were cut.

At this stage, Ames moved to New York, where she had her own local radio programs from 1941 through 1947, an experimental TV program in 1941, and appeared in a Broadway show, Beggars are Coming to Town (1945), with Luther Adler, Dorothy Comingore, Herbert Berghof (best known today for HB Studios), Arthur Hunnicutt, Paul Kelly, and E.G. Marshall. Sadly, she died of cancer in 1947. She was not yet 40 years old.

For more on silent film and classic comedy, please read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube,