Actor. He is best known for his film portrayals of fussy, effete snobs. Three such characterizations, the acid-tongued columnist ‘Waldo Lydecker’ in “Laura” (1944), ‘Elliott Templeton’ in “The Razor's Edge” (1946), and unlikely baby-sitter ‘Mr. Belvedere’ in “Sitting Pretty” (1948), earned him Academy Award nominations. He was born Webb Parmalee Hollenbeck in Indianapolis, Indiana, he sought a stage career from an early age, quitting grade school at age 13 to study the arts, and actually sang with the Boston Opera Company when he was 17. Despite the vehement opposition of his stepfather, Green Raum, he made his New York acting debut in 1906 under the stage name "Master Webb Raum." Taking the stage name ‘Clifton Webb,’ he danced professionally, acted on stage in London and on Broadway, and became a leading musical comedy star. Although not formally trained in dancing he had a natural talent for it, which he first demonstrated in comic vaudeville and musical shows. Mae Murray danced with him for quite a few months on the Keith vaudeville circuit. Later he would add eccentric type dances with Mary Hay and Gloria Goodwin. In 1915, the famous ballroom choreographer Ned Wayburn headlined him in his Broadway revue "Town Topics of 1915." His first film roles were playing dapper, sophisticated parts in several silent films, beginning with “Polly with a Past” (1920), but his movie career didn’t really take off until the 1940’s with the smash hit “Laura.” Webb seldom strayed very far from his patented characterization, but refined it continually. His priggish ‘Mr. Belvedere’ character was reputedly not far removed from his real life persona. Other films include: “New Toys” (1925), “The Dark Corner” (1946), “Mr. Belvedere Goes to College” (1949), “Cheaper by the Dozen” (as efficiency expert ‘Frank Gilbreth’), “For Heaven's Sake” (1950), “Elopement” and “Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell” (1951), “Dreamboat” and “Stars and Stripes Forever” (as ‘John Philip Sousa’) (1952), “Mister Scoutmaster” and “Titanic” (1953), “Three Coins in the Fountain” and “Woman's World” (1954), “The Man Who Never Was” (1956), “Boy on a Dolphin” (1957),“The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker” and “Holiday for Lovers” (1959), and “Satan Never Sleeps” (1962). He never married and lived with his mother until her death in 1960. Clifton Webb died of a heart attack on October 13, 1966 in Beverly Hills, California at age 76.
Bio by: Edward Parsons