Claude Rains was born William Claude Rains on November 10, 1889 in London, England. He was the son of the British stage actor Frederick Rains.
Claude Rains made his stage debut at the age of eleven in "Nell of Old Drury."
Claude Rains decided to come to America in 1913 and the New York theater, but with the outbreak of World War I the next year, he returned to serve with a Scottish regiment in Europe. Claude Rains served in the World War I in the London Scottish Regiment with fellow actors Basil Rathbone, Ronald Colman and Herbert Marshall. Rains rose to the ranks of Captain. During the War he was almost blinded in one eye due to injury received in a gas attack.
After the War, Claude Rains studied at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree recognized Rains' acting talent and paid for the elocution books and lessons he needed due to his poor diction. Later, Claude became a teacher at the school and taught John Gielgud and Laurenece Olivier among others.
During the early 1920s, Claude Rains was a star on the London Stage.
In 1927, Claude Rains returned to American and made his broadway debut in The Constant Nympth. He would appear in such Broadway productions as The Apple Cart, The Game of Love and Death, The Good Earth, Darkness at Noon, and The Confidential Clerk. He would win the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for Darkness at Noon (1951).
Claude Rains made his movie debut in Build Thy House (1920) playing the role of Clarkis. It would be 13 years before Claude would appear in another movie.
In 1933, Claude Rains was cast as The Invisible Man in the movie of the same name.
Claude Rains movie credits include Anthony Adverse (1936), The Prince and The Pauper (1937), They Won't Forget (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Four Daughters (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Sea Hawk (1940), Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Now Voyager (1942), Casablanca (1942), Passage to Marseille (1944), Mr. Skeffington (1944), Notorious (1946), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).
Claude Rains also appeared on television shows such as Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Dr. Kildare, Rawhide, Wagon Train, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
Claude Rains was nominated four times for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Casablanca (1942), Mr. Skeffington (1944) and Notorious (1946).
He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.
Claude Rains died on May 30, 1967 of an intestinal hemorrhage. He designed his own tombstone to read "All things once/Are things forever,/Soul, once living,/lives forever.". When Claude died he left $25,000 to the Actors Fund of America.