Several weeks ago we ran this never-before-published picture unearthed from The Donald Gordon Collection, showing our late pal Donald (on the right) with a young man we just couldn’t identify.
Stumped, we turned to you, our online cognescenti, to come to the rescue with a photo ID.
Joe Morella and Frank Segers back again with the good news that our mystery was pithily solved by an e-mail comment we received on June 26 with these words: “I believe it’s Stanley Clements.”
Our online sleuth is Christine Feehan. After a bit of checking on our part we confirmed that Christine is absolutely right. The guy on the left IS Stanley Clements.
The next question might logically be: just who IS Stanley Clements?
Born Stanislaw Klimowicz on Long Island, New York in the summer of 1926, Clements harbored show biz aspirations from an early age. But the time he was 11, he had won an amateur singing contest and toured with the Major Bowes’ Amateur Hour show. By 1941 he was signed by 20th Century Fox. His forte was playing juvenile toughs. Young adult roles came later after Clements’ 1946-47 military service.
The reason we, and a lot of other people, were confused, and thought he was one of the Dead End Kids is that Clements did play one of the Eastside Kids in one or two features in that series in the early 4o’s. Also, in the mid 50’s, he replaced Leo Gorcey in the final few Bowery Boys programmers (the series ended in 1958).
But he wasn’t, as we knew, ever a member of The Dead End gang. In fact Clements had, under Darryl Zanuck’s aegis at Fox, actually made several A films. He had parts in “The More The Merrier,” “Going My Way,” and “Salty O’Roarke.” which starred Alan Ladd and Gail Russell.
Clements also costarred in Allied Artists'”Bad Boy” which was the screen debut of Audie Murphy. That film starred Lloyd Nolan, Jane Wyatt, James Gleason and featured other child actors who’d grown into teenagers, Jimmy Lydon and Dickie Moore. He played a Western Union delivery boy in Allied Artists 1948 release, “The Babe Ruth Story”, costarring William Bendix and Claire Trevor.
As he aged, Clements worked more and more in television, taking roles in a host of prime time network series from “The Loretta Young Show” in the mid 50’s, to the Perry Mason series a decade later and “Gunsmoke” in the 70’s. The actor is no longer with us — he died of emphysema in 1981 at the age of 55.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect today of Clements’ career is the first of the two women he married and divorced. For three years beginning in 1945, he was wed to Gloria Grahame, then a young starlet before her big breaks.
The couple had met on a USO tour in Texas. They wed, then split, then reconciled, then finally divorced. But they carried on for years afterward. It’s been reported that on his wedding night to his second wife in 1951, Clements actually spent the night with Grahame.
Gloria Grahame was a talented actress but a tortured soul with a complicated personal life. She is today regarded as the reigning empress of film noir femme fatales.
We’ll have much more on her story in later entries. For now, we’re thankful to Christine Feehan for pointing us in the right direction. We knew you out there would be able to recognize stars of the golden era, even if we had temporarily forgotten them!