Day 286 of Colourisation Project – February 17
Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.
Born Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she was better known as MGM musical star, Kathryn Grayson, a coloratura soprano, who embodied the glamour of Hollywood movie musicals in the 1940s and ’50s.
Her most memorable roles were in Anchors Aweigh (1945) with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, Show Boat (1951) and Kiss Me Kate (1953), both opposite Howard Keel.
Grayson would have preferred a career as an opera singer but was talked out of it by MGM executives who felt it could ruin her screen career. It was not until the 1960s, that Grayson who had begun training as an opera singer from the age of twelve, appeared in a number of operas; La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, Orpheus in the Underworld and La Traviata.
She started her career however as one of MGM’s top musical stars of the 1940s, and was cast opposite the likes of Gene Kelly and Mario Lanza. Though she was paired with Lanza a few times, the two clashed off set due mostly to Lanza’s bad language and alcohol abuse.
According to Peter H. Brown, in Lights, Cameras, Embrace! The Hollywood Love Scene, while shooting the Madama Butterfly scene in the film, The Toast of New Orleans, (1950) “Lanza kept attempting to French kiss Grayson, which Grayson claimed was made even worse by the fact that he would constantly eat garlic before shooting. Grayson went to costume designer Helen Rose and she sewed pieces of brass into Grayson’s gloves. Any time Lanza attempted to french kiss her after that, she hit him with the brass-filled glove.”
With the decline of musical productions in the 1960s Grayson worked in theatre, appearing in Camelot (1962–1964) and occasionally on TV. Grayson also reunited with Keel for popular nightclub acts in Las Vegas, and also made several successful tours of Australia. In her final years, Grayson gave private singing lessons in her Los Angeles home.
Kathryn Grayson died in her sleep this day, February 17, 2010 at the age of 88.
She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1600 Vine Street.
Today I leave you with a duet by Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel performing the wonderful Make Believe from one of my favourite musicals, ShowBoat (1951).
“I must be the oldest living child soprano.” ~ Kathryn Grayson