Kathryn Grayson, American actress and Soprano, Died at 88

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Dead, Kathryn Grayson on February 17, 2010 at the age of 88, she was an American actress and soprano.

Born Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the daughter of Charles E. Hedrick and Lillian Grayson Hedrick (1897–1955).

Charles was a building contractor-realtor. She was under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by the early 1940s, soon establishing a career principally through her work in musicals.

After several supporting roles, she was a lead performer in such films as Thousands Cheer (1943), Anchors Aweigh (1945) with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly, and Show Boat (1951) and Kiss Me Kate (1953), both with Howard Keel.

For the next 18 months, Grayson went through voice lessons, drama coaching, diction, diets and exercise. Within a year, Grayson had her first screen test.

However, the studio executives were not satisfied, and she went through a further six months of lessons until she made her first film appearance in 1941’s Andy Hardy’s Private Secretary as the character’s secretary Kathryn Land.

Grayson did not appear in any films for nearly two years (from 1943 to 1945), but instead worked at entertaining troops during the war and performing on radio programs.

She returned to films in Anchors Aweigh, a musical romantic-comedy set in Los Angeles and co-starring Kelly and Frank Sinatra.

Anchors Aweigh was the fifth-highest grossing film of 1945, earning over $4.779 million.

This was followed by Two Sisters from Boston and guest appearances in Ziegfeld Follies and Till the Clouds Roll By. Grayson’s performance in Till the Clouds Roll By included “Make Believe” in a capsule version of the musical Show Boat, which would be remade five years later, with Grayson in the starring role.

In 1941, when Ms. Grayson was 19, she eloped with John Shelton, an actor and singer, whom she divorced in 1946. She and the radio singer Johnnie Johnston were married from 1947 to 1951 and had a daughter, Patricia Towers, who survives her, along with two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

While appearing in her film roles, Grayson also performed on the radio. Grayson performed on concert tours throughout the 1950s. In May 1951, Grayson had to postpone a concert tour due to being unknowingly cast in Lovely to Look At. “My concert bookings were all set.

So when I read in New York that I was to do this film, I said ‘How silly!’, then boom! The next day I got my studio telegram asking me to return for the picture!”.

In 1954 Kathryn re-signed with RCA Records and recorded four songs with ex-husband Johnny Johnston. In the next year she made her night club debut at the Sahara in Las Vegas.

In 1968 she rejoined her Kiss Me Kate (1953) singing co-star, Howard Keel for several highly successful night club appearances in Las Vegas.

In 1954 Kathryn re-signed with RCA Records and recorded four songs with ex-husband Johnny Johnston.

In the next year she made her night club debut at the Sahara in Las Vegas.

 

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