Touring the provinces for a decade, Clive became an expert at virtually every sort of regional dialect in the British Isles.
He moved to the U.S. in 1912, where after working in the Orpheum vaudeville circuit he set up his own stock company in Boston. By the 1920s, his company was operating in Hollywood; among his repertory players were such up-and-comers as Rosalind Russell.
He made his film debut as a rural police officer in 1933's The Invisible Man, then spent the next seven years showing up in wry bit roles as burgomeisters, butlers, reporters, aristocrats, shopkeepers and cabbies. Though he seldom settled down too long in any one characterization, E. E. Clive was a semi-regular as Tenny the Butler in Paramount Pictures' Bulldog Drummond "B" series starring John Howard.