Keynote with Gwenda Young
Located among his papers in the University of Tennessee Libraries’ Special Collections and University Archives is a well-thumbed flyer advertising the talents of “Master Clarence Leon Brown, Juvenile Entertainer, Dramatic Reader,” a “juvenile entertainer excelled by none. . . . He is a handsome child with a most charming appearance and personality, and with culture combined with natural magnetic force he easily captivates an audience of thousands. . . . He moves his audience to tears and laughter at will.”
This piece of ephemera, treasured by its owner for almost ninety years, is just one of the many fascinating items in the Clarence Brown collection at University of Tennessee, Knoxville–an advertisement that confidently announces the arrival of a talent who is bound to make his mark in the world…
And Clarence Brown, a devoted son of Knoxville, did just that! Over the course of a professional life spanning five decades, this prodigy carved out a prodigious, distinguished career in the heart of the famed Hollywood studio system. The skill with which he handled legendary stars, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, made him one of MGM studio’s most valued assets. His ability to figure out solutions to the most challenging situations on set–be they human, animal or technical–was borne from his early life in Knoxville, first as an entertainer and later, as an engineer.
Join Gwenda Young, author of Clarence Brown: Hollywood’s Forgotten Master, as she brings us on an audio-visual journey through Brown’s films, from his early years as the “Master’s apprentice,” to the bold and beautiful films he made in the silent era, through to the star-laden films and the compelling, personal projects of his studio career in the 1930s and 1940s.