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UC Irvine theater for its fairest lady

November 24, 2002|ANN CONWAY | Times Staff Writer

Calling his stepmother, Claire Trevor, "my fair lady," billionaire real estate developer Donald Bren presented UC Irvine with the late actress' 1948 Oscar (for "Key Largo") and 1957 Emmy (for a production of "Dodsworth") at the dedication of the university's Claire Trevor Theatre. "It was almost three years ago that she made her last appearance at this theater," Bren said as he stood onstage before a black-tie crowd that included UCI Chancellor Ralph Cicerone and former state Sen. Marian Bergeson. "A group of students brought tears to her eyes as they sang show tunes in her honor." That night, students asked about her 80 years as a performer and about co-stars John Wayne, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy, Bren said. "As always, she was quick, candid, opinionated and funny. She stole the show and the kids stole her heart."

Trevor went on to make a major gift for the completion of the theater and later made another major gift to the university's school of the arts; she died in 2000 at age 91. During the gala dedication Nov. 16, UCI performing arts students -- graduates and undergraduates alike -- performed the star's favorite musical, Lerner & Loewe's "My Fair Lady." "It is such a beautiful play about language, which Claire Trevor was exquisite at," said director Robert Cohen, the university's Claire Trevor Professor of Drama. "And it is about style, culture and the elimination of class difference, which, of course, as a working actor all her life, Claire knew about -- she was a woman who knew about the travails of labor and wealth. She was very interested in the issues of this play."

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