Classic TV actor Claire Griswold was an army brat who lived on four different continents before she was a teenager
She had a short but prolific career on TV, appearing in 20 roles in five years.
Though she never became a household name, Claire Griswold certainly left her mark on classic television. She appeared in over 20 roles, the majority coming in her first five years living in Los Angeles.
The daughter of Lt. Gen. Francis H. Griswold, Claire was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1936. She told a TV magazine syndicated by The Detroit News and other publications around the country, “Dad was with the Air Force and we moved about once every 18 months.”
Along with Hawaii, the family lived all over the world — Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Claire noted that “London was best because I was able to study ballet at the Sadler’s Wells school for two and a half years.”
After living around the globe, the Griswolds came to New York City when Claire was a teenager. After a short stint as a model, she graced the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal and other magazines, Claire decided to get into acting.
She took acting classes at New York’s Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre created by Sanford Meisner. Robert Duvall, a future TV costar, and other Hollywood legends studied at the Playhouse around the same time.
Claire found more than a love for acting at the renowned drama school, she also found the love of her life. She began dating an aspiring actor and director named Sydney Pollack. Cinema fans may know that name as the Oscar-winning mind behind movies like Three Days of the Condor, Tootsie, Out of Africa and The Firm, but in the 1950s, he was just another twenty-something hoping to make it in showbusiness.
Claire and Sydney tied the knot in 1958 and moved to Southern California. They were looking for more opportunities and neither had any trouble finding them. Claire appeared in Wanted Dead or Alive among many others, and by 1961 was one of the most prolific guest stars on TV. She appeared on nine different shows that year, including Hawaiian Eye, Surfside 6 and Perry Mason.
In 1962, Alfred Hitchcock cast her in “I Saw the Whole Thing,” an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. It was the only hour-long episode of his famous show that he directed, after helming 17 installments of the half-hour version, Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Hitchcock was impressed with Griswold’s performance and signed her to a personal contract. She then appeared in a second Hitchcock Hour episode “Home Away from Home.”