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Clarence Brown Condolences

Identifier: MS-1625

This collection contains condolence letters and cards sent to Marian Spies Brown after the death of her husband, Clarence Brown, in 1987. The collection also contains some photocopied newspaper clippings of Clarence Brown's death notice.


  • 1987

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact Special Collections.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 folder)


This collection contains condolence letters and cards sent to Marian Spies Brown after the death of her husband, Clarence Brown, in 1987.

Biographical/Historical Note

Clarence Leon Brown was born to Larkin Harry and Katherine Ann (Gaw) Brown in Clinton, Massachusetts on May 10, 1890. The family moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 1902, where Larkin Brown worked as a superintendent at Brookside Mills, a textile manufacturing company. Clarence Brown graduated from Knoxville High School in 1905 and went on to earn his B.A. in mechanical and electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1910. For the next five years, he worked for automobile manufacturer Stevens-Duryea and later established his own dealership, the Brown Motor Car Company, in Alabama. He soon grew restless and, fascinated with movies, moved to New Jersey to study under French director Maurice Tourneur at Peerless Studios. Here, the pair directed such films as Deep Waters (1919) and The Last of the Mohicans (1920).

Though Brown directed several pictures for Universal Studios, his longest association was with MGM beginning with Flesh and the Devil (1926), his first collaboration with Greta Garbo. Garbo later named previous hit Clarence Brown next hit as one of her favorite directors.

During the course of his career, Brown directed or produced more than fifty full-length motion pictures and worked with many of the film industry's most illustrious stars including Joan Crawford and Clark Gable in Chained (1934), Spencer Tracy in Edison the Man (1940), Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet (1945), and Gregory Peck in The Yearling (1947). Brown received a total of six Academy Award nominations for Best Director and eight of his films won Oscars in various categories. Brown retired from film in 1952.

Clarence Brown had many outside interests including cars, airplanes, travel, and theatre. He also remained involved with the University of Tennessee, contributing development funds towards the construction of the Clarence Brown Theater and leaving the University an additional $12 million after his death on August 17, 1987. When combined, these sums made him the largest donor in the University's history.

Clarence Brown was married four times: first to Paul Herndon Pratt (sometimes given as Pauline or Paula; 1894-) on May 14, 1913, second to Ona Wilson (1884-1960), third to Alice Joyce (1890-1955) on March 31, 1933, and finally to Marian Ruth Spies (1905-1993) in 1946. He had one child, Adrienne (Brown) Adams Carillo, with his first wife.

Marian Spies Brown, Clarence Brown's fourth and final wife, was born on January 22, 1905, in Norwalk, Ohio. Marian was in the 1922 class at Norwalk High School and later attended Intermont College in Bristol, Virginia. She went on to work at MGM studios, first as a freelance journalist for Ed Sullivan and later as secretary for Clarence Brown. Marian and Clarence were married in 1946. She shared many interests with her husband including travel and outdoor sports. Marian also participated in a number of philanthropic and alumni activities at the University of Tennessee.


This collection consists of a single folder.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA