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Kathlyn Williams Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (7)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 31 May 1879Butte, Montana, USA
Date of Death 23 September 1960Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameKathleen Mabel Williams
Nickname Katie
Height 5' 5" (1.65 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Pioneer silver screen star Kathlyn Williams is primarily known as the spry blonde of the very first Hollywood cliffhanger, The Adventures of Kathlyn (1913), in which her real first name was used in the title. This accomplishment has resulted in many reference works mistakenly referring to her as an adventurous Pearl White-type silent serial queen. While Kathlyn did, in fact, go on to perform in a few other adventure-type pictures, including westerns, she was actually quite gentile and dignified in nature and primarily graced heavier drama on the screen. Having once been dubbed the Sarah Bernhardt of the screen, she never did appear in another serial.

She was born in Butte, Montana, on May 31, 1879 (most sources incorrectly list 1888) of Norwegian and Welsh descent, Kathlyn was born to Joseph E. and Mary C. Williams. With early interest and experience as a vocal recitalist, she eventually attended the Sargent School of Acting and studied at Wesleyan University (1899). Following stage experience in local stock and touring companies (from 1902) she began to develop a solid name for herself in such plays as "When We Were Twenty One". Her early career was generously sponsored by Sen. W.A. Clarke after Kathlyn's family lost their fortunes. She eventually went to Hollywood while performing with the Belasco Stock Company and began making films as early as 1908 with D.W. Griffith at the Biograph Studio.

A popular star at the Selig Polyscope Company in 1910 (she was at first publicized as "The Selig Girl"), she appeared in assorted jungle adventures for the studio as well as a number of westerns opposite cowboy star Tom Mix. She made history, however, with the very first serial adventure, which contained a number of wild animals, and it saved the faltering studio from bankruptcy. She proceeded to remain a popular item after being handed the lead in the Selig epic The Spoilers (1914), playing her signature role of Cherry Marlotte.

Once the Selig Studio folded, Kathlyn signed with Paramount Pictures following her marriage to Paramount executive Charles F. Eyton in 1916 (a former actor, he later became the studio's General Manager), and while there appeared as the star of several early dramas for both Cecil B. DeMille and his brother William C. de Mille, including The Whispering Chorus (1918), We Can't Have Everything (1918), The Tree of Knowledge (1920) and Conrad in Quest of His Youth (1920). Her numerous co-stars included veteran matinée idols (Thomas Meighan, Theodore Roberts, Tyrone Power Sr.), young established stars (Wallace Reid) and western heroes (Roy Stewart.

Kathlyn's fair, spunky, coquettish looks grew suddenly grim and matronly by the early 1920s and she moved swiftly into stately dramatic efforts, backing up such celebrity femmes of the day as May McAvoy, Betty Compson, Anita Page, Greta Garbo and even Joan Crawford before the advent of sound. She retired from films in 1935 after only a handful of talkies and, though comebacks were bantered about from time to time in the gossip mill, nothing came of it. A tragic car accident in 1949 resulted in the loss of a leg, ending any chances whatsoever of revitalizing her career. She was confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of her life.

Married and divorced three times, her only child, Victor Hugo Kainer, from her first marriage to import/export businessman Otto Kainer, was born in 1905 but died a young teenager after developing influenza and succumbing to septic poisoning in 1922. After a brief marriage to actor Frank R. Allen, she married Eyton. That marriage ended in 1931.

Due to the loss of her leg, Kathlyn became a wheelchair-bound invalid in the last decade of her life. She succumbed to massive heart attack in her Hollywood apartment on September 23, 1960, at age 81. She was cremated and her ashes interred in the Deodora Hall, South Columbarium in the Chapel of the Pines Crematory in Los Angeles.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (3)

Charles F. Eyton (2 June 1916 - 1931) (divorced)
Frank R. Allen (3 March 1913 - 30 June 1914) (divorced)
Otto Hugo Kainer (2 October 1903 - 1909) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (7)

Married to one-time general manager of Parmount Pictures Charles F. Eyton.
So popular was her serial The Adventures of Kathlyn (1916), that she he became a trendsetter in women's fashions and coiffures and inspired a waltz, a clothing line and a cocktail to be named after her.
The first chapterplay with holdover action, Kathlyn's adventure serial was but one in a number of melodramas and jungle adventures teaming the actress with the Selig Polyscope Company's famous stable of wild animals (the nucleus for what would later become the Los Angeles Zoo).
Her only child, Victor Kainer Eyton, from her first marriage died a teenager after developing influenza.
Known for her golden blond hair.
Williams' mother, Mary C. Boe, was born in Norway, and her two uncles, Christ and Hans Boe, lived in the Butte, Montana area.
Known as "The Selig Girl" during her prime, William Desmond Taylor directed her in three of her 176 films. Her signature appears on Taylor's death certificate; she is the one who officially identified Taylor's body after his murder.

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