Kathleen Kirkham

Active - 1917 - 1926  |   Born - Apr 15, 1895   |   Died - Nov 7, 1961   |   Genres - Drama, Romance, Western, Adventure, Comedy

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Biography by Hans J. Wollstein

American silent-screen leading lady Kathleen Kirkham played Lady Greystoke, Tarzan's mother, in the ape-man's cinematic debut, Tarzan of the Apes (1918). But usually the dark-haired actress portrayed that early 20th century mainstay, the man-eating vamp. Theda Bara popularized the character in the 1914 A Fool There Was and imitators cropped up almost immediately, from the aging Virginia Pearson to prairie femme fatale Louise Glaum. Though perhaps one of the lesser practitioners of cinematic vamping, Kirkham was especially rotten to poor Colleen Moore in a family drama entitled When Dawn Came (1920) and mercilessly attempted to seduce her own stepson (Nigel Barrie) in Josslyn's Wife (1919). By the 1920s, she was increasingly playing mothers. "I've been the mother of many a young girl who was really older than myself," Kirkham complained publicly, ending her film career in 1926. The former silent-screen vamp was working as a cook in Santa Barbara, California, when she died on November 7, 1961.

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