- Not to be confused with Katherine Crawford, a film and TV actress of the 1960s and 70s best known for co-starring in the series Gemini Man.
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Kathryn Crawford, also spelled Katherine Crawford, (October 5, 1908 – December 7, 1980) was an American film and theatre actress of the 1920s and 1930s.
Born Katherine Moran in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, Crawford had a somewhat tumultuous childhood. Her parents divorced when she was four years old; she and her sister stayed with her mother. In 1917, her mother was hospitalized after an accident. While her mother was in the hospital an aunt took Kathryn and her sister, Margaret (1907-1975) away from their mother's house to live with their father.
Soon after Crawford's mother fell ill, her father moved the family to Los Angeles, California. She didn't get along with her stepmother, and at the age of 15, Crawford eloped with her sister's boyfriend to get out of the house. After a year and a half of marriage, the two separated. Her mother, who later remarried and was working as a hotelmaid, searched 12 years for her daughters and found them after she saw Kathryn in a movie magazine in 1929.
Crawford worked as a shop assistant for some time but was determined to make use of her singing voice and decided to pursue musical comedy. She began performing in summer stock jobs across the Pacific Coast until she finally got her big break, as the ingenue in the play Hit the Deck. The play was successful and she attracted the attention of director Wesley Ruggles, who gave her a screen test that won her a contract with Universal Pictures. They would later marry.
Crawford starred in her first film in 1929, when she appeared opposite Hoot Gibson in King of the Rodeo. She would star in seven films that year, and in 1930 she appeared in another six films, including Safety in Numbers (1930) alongside Carole Lombard and up and coming actress and "WAMPAS Baby Star" Josephine Dunn.
Her only starring role on Broadway was in the Cole Porter musical The New Yorkers in which she was the original singer of "Love for Sale". However, by 1931 her career had cooled. She would star in only one film that year, and only three between 1932 and 1933, only one of which would be a starring lead role.
Crawford's final acting part came in 1941, when she was credited under the name "Katherine Crawford" in City of Missing Girls, and which starred H. B. Warner and John Archer. She retired from acting after that film, and moved to Pasadena, California.
Crawford's second marriage (following her teenage elopement) was to director Wesley Ruggles. In 1934, she married James Edgar Jr in 1934 and retired from the screen. They divorced (with much publicity) in 1937. Crawford married Ralph M. Parson, with whom she would remain married until his death in 1974.
When her film career ended, Crawford turned to interior decorating, which she pursued for 40 years. She designed the interiors for the homes and apartments of famous people like Baron Hilton, Douglas MacArthur and President Herbert Hoover. She was the consulting designer for Mary Pickford's Pickfair estate for 20 years.
A member of the founding friends of Harvey Mudd College, Claremont,she also was a member of the founders of the Los Angeles Music Center and the Blue Ribbon 400. She was a member of the Society for Preservation of Variety Arts,the Los Angeles County Museum and the Society of American Interior Designers.
Crawford died of cancer at the Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena, California, on December 10, 1980. She was 72 years old.
- Los Angeles Times: Kathryn Crawford Parsons, Former Actress, Dies at 72, December 10, 1980
- St Joseph Gazette : 12 year search for girls ends, June 3, 1929
- Los Angeles Times : Actress' Mother in Court Today, February 2, 1931.