Kathleen Howard

Active - 1934 - 1950  |   Born - Jul 17, 1880   |   Died - Apr 15, 1956   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Musical, Romance, Crime

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Described by film historian William K. Everson as "that supercilious martyr" (he was of course referring to her on-screen personality), Canadian character actress Kathleen Howard usually comported herself before the cameras in a most operatic fashion. And who with better right? Howard was a Metropolitan opera star from 1916 through 1928, turning to film acting only after her voice broke. She was also an accomplished writer, serving on the executive staff of Harper's Bazaar. She made her first movie appearance, appropriately cast as an Italian grande dame, in Death Takes a Holiday (1934). Generations of W.C. Fields fans have doted upon Howard's full-blooded portrayals of Fields' virago wife in It's a Gift (1934) and The Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935). Toning down her screen mannerisms a bit, Kathleen Howard spent her last decade in films in such supporting roles as the melancholy schoolmistress in Deanna Durbin's First Love (1939) and the wry lady judge in One Night in the Tropics (1940).

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