Claude Rains – An Invisible Man (hardback)
Nominated for the 2023 Rondo Award
Claude Rains was “the greatest character actor of his age — possiblyof all ages,” according to film historian Richard Schickel. Classic credits include The Invisible Man, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Now, Voyager, Casablanca, Notorious and Lawrence of Arabia. A stage star in his native England, Rains didn’t make his screen debut until age 43. Throughout his career, he hid behind a movie persona that was suave and sophisticated, but off camera he was insecure and had trouble expressing feelings. Good-natured, still he had few friends and was married six times. A proud naturalized American, Victorian values led him to repudiate Tinsel Town — he was happiest puttering around the 18th-century Pennsylvania farm that was his heart and soul.
As a teenager, Toby Cohen was thrilled to meet her screen idol backstage after his Broadway triumph. Based on her decades of research and exclusive interviews — with Rains’ fifth wife, his sixth wife’s children and nephews, his farm neighbors, the doctor who treated him in his final illness — Ms. Cohen has produced not just a biography, but an in-depth, compassionate analysis of a complicated man whose true self was “invisible” to all.
With never-before-published candid photographs.
"Who could forget Claude Rains (1889-1967) as the manipulative and mellifluous Captain Renault, walking into the fog with Rick in the final scene of Casablanca? Cohen became a dedicated fan after seeing one of his films in her childhood. This strong biography is an affectionate portrait of the performer, whom she considers to be the best of his generation. Born in London into abject poverty, Rains overcame a broad Cockney accent and speech impediment to develop his distinctive vocal style. Moving to the U.S. after World War I, he revered America and was deeply proud of his American citizenship. While his first love was theatre, his role in the 1933 film The Invisible Man changed the course of his life. He earned Oscar nominations for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Casablanca, Mr. Skeffington, and Notorious. Cohen explains the intricacies of the studio contract system-Rains was under contract to Warner Brothers-and how he often struggled within it. While Rains was a virtuoso performer, he struggled with personal relationships, eventually marrying six times. VERDICT With extensive photographs, notes, and bibliography, this is a notable and detailed tribute to an actor who deserves to be remembered." - Library Journal