Kathryn Grayson Poster


Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (23)

Overview (5)

Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameZelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick
Nickname Graysie
Height 5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Kathryn Grayson was born Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick in Winston-Salem, NC, on February 9, 1922. This pretty, petite brunette with a heart-shaped face was discovered by MGM talent scouts while singing on the radio. The studio quickly signed her to a contract, and she was given acting lessons along and had to pose for countless publicity photos. Kathryn, a coloratura soprano, made her first film in 1941, a "B" picture called Andy Hardy's Private Secretary (1941). She soon was cast opposite some of MGM's top musical stars of the 1940s, such as Gene Kelly and Mario Lanza. She was paired with Lanza a few times, but the two never got along due mostly to Lanza's hot temper and alcohol abuse. The pairing of Lanza and Grayson would never match the success of lyrical soprano Jeanette MacDonald and baritone Nelson Eddy, although Kathryn and MacDonald did become great friends. Jeanette became a mentor and an older sister figure for Kathryn.

Grayson's most memorable roles came in the early 1950s. They were Show Boat (1951), where she played "Magnolia", opposite Ava Gardner and Howard Keel; Kiss Me Kate (1953), playing actress "Lilli Vanessi", who portrayed "Katherine" in the movie's "show within a show", a musical version of "The Taming of the Shrew". In 1953 she exited MGM, then made only one more film, The Vagabond King (1956), at Paramount. She later worked in nightclubs and on stage.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: A. Nonymous

Spouse (2)

Johnny Johnston (22 August 1947 - 3 October 1952) (divorced) (1 child)
John Shelton (11 July 1941 - 17 June 1946) (divorced)

Trivia (23)

On contract to MGM for 13 years
Howard Keel, her co-star in three movies, once described her in an interview as the most beautiful woman in the history of movies.
Mother, with Johnny Johnston, of daughter, Patricia Kathryn Johnston, born on October 7, 1948.
Both her younger sister, Frances Raeburn, and older brother, Michael Butler, were in the film, Seven Sweethearts (1942), along with Kathryn.
In Italy, most of her films were dubbed by Renata Marini. She was occasionally dubbed by Dhia Cristiani, Lydia Simoneschi and Micaela Giustiniani.
Was once engaged to Howard Hughes during the 1950s.
The third child of Charles and Lillian Hedrick, Kathryn was born in North Carolina but grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri, where her family moved in 1927. The entire family sang.
Discovered at age 11 by Frances Marshall, a Chicago Civic Light Opera singer, who trained her in voice.
Moved to California with her family when she was 15.
Pursued a career on the operatic stage in her teenage years. She attended school at Manual Arts High in Los Angeles. Her solos at school and church eventually attracted the attention of Art Rush at RCA Redseal Records, who quickly signed her to a contract.
In 1939, Sam Katz, the executive in charge of musicals at MGM, sought out a rival to Universal's popular Deanna Durbin and turned to Kathryn. She repeatedly turned him down at the time because she wanted an opera and not a movie career. She finally relented.
Not long after signing her MGM contract, Kathryn was asked to make her operatic debut in "Lucia" at the Metropolitan Opera House. Louis B. Mayer talked her out of it, knowing it would damage her long-term image as a film star.
The name "Kathryn Grayson" came from her middle name and her mother's maiden name.
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.
Kathryn made her non-singing stage debut with 1982's "Night Watch".
Was offered the title role in the movie Mother (1996) but turned it down saying she couldn't possibly do the part because the woman is "brain dead". Fellow MGM alumnus Debbie Reynolds eventually played the part to wonderful reviews.
Remembrance tribute provided by critic Richard Corliss for "Time" magazine's Milestones section (Issue: March 8, 2010).
Good friend of Ava Gardner.
Though she and Mario Lanza did not get along very well, Kathryn did take his wife Betty and the children into her home, for a time, after Mario's untimely death.
Upon her death, she was cremated.
She was a staunch conservative-minded Republican and campaigned for Ronald Reagan three times during the course of his political career.
Teaches voice, privately. [2002]

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