Kendra Steiner Editions

March 15, 2020

John Gilbert’s recipe for Clam Chowder (1927)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 8:56 pm
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john gilbert 2

Taking a break from work, I was catching up on a silent film discussion list where someone posted John Gilbert’s recipe for clam chowder from the 1927 PHOTOPLAY COOK BOOK, which featured recipes of the stars (there is also a 1929 volume, which I’ve seen). I did a little online sleuthing and found a scan of the entire book from a Canadian library.

John Gilbert is my favorite silent-film leading man, and he went on to do fine work in the early sound era too, up through his final film, the bizarre but totally entertaining 1934 ensemble cast feature THE CAPTAIN HATES THE SEA.

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I love clam chowder and can attest that this is a good solid recipe. You could always add a small amount of something of your own, but Gilbert has got the basic recipe down with the small touches like bacon and pepper and parsley and real butter. You can easily buy canned chopped clams (instead of the two dozen clams he mentions), which would make the job a lot easier and would not really hurt the end result any….and the clam juice (or liquor, as Gilbert calls it) in the can is perfect for chowder. You could also pick up a bottle of clam juice at most supermarkets, to make your recipe even richer and more flavorful, as it is available for mixed drinks. I will often use a bottle when I’m making rice to make a kind of clam rice. Anyway, here is Gilbert’s recipe, copied and pasted from the book….

Clam Chowder 


2 doz. clams 
1 cup water 
3 large potatoes 
2 slices bacon 
1 onion 
1 quart milk 
2 tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons flour 
1 teaspoon parsley 
1 teaspoon salt 

Fry diced bacon and chopped onion together. Add clam liquor, 
water and diced potatoes. Cook until tender. Add clams and milk. 
Thicken with butter and flour creamed together. Pour chowder over 
crackers and sprinkle with chopped parsley. 

Sponsored by Mr, Gilbert, clam chowder is due for a big revival 
in popularity. And it's good, too. 

You would certainly want whole milk for this, not 2% or skim, and if you don’t have to worry about calories or cholesterol, you could use half and half instead! Talk about rich!


john gilbert

Greta Garbo and John Gilbert


trailer for Gilbert’s 1933 feature FAST WORKERS, with Robert Armstrong (same year as RA starred in King Kong!)




Many of John Gilbert’s best-known films from the 1920’s, including the ones where he is paired with his friend and companion Greta Garbo, were made for MGM and are not available for free online….however, they ARE available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive. However, here is one in its entirety, Erich Von Stroheim’s THE MERRY WIDOW from 1925, starring Mae Murray and Gilbert, the film Von Stroheim made after GREED. It’s 137 minutes long, so make a cup of coffee and settle back in a comfortable chair….



Kino (before they were merged into Kino-Lorber) did a wonderful release of two Gilbert classics on DVD many years ago, BARDLEYS THE MAGNIFICENT (1926, directed by King Vidor) and MONTE CRISTO (1922), and the set also includes a documentary on Gilbert, featuring a number of comments from his daughter, Leatrice Gilbert Fountain. It’s highly recommended!


note: when I was a child, my mother used to make something not unlike Margaret Livingston’s SALMON LOAF, which is on the page after Gilbert’s chowder in the Photoplay cookbook.

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