July 27, 1884|
Clifton, Ontario, Canada
|Died||April 15, 1956
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Opera singer, actress, magazine editor|
Kathleen Howard (July 27, 1884 - April 15, 1956) was a Canadian-born opera singer (mezzo-soprano), magazine editor and US film character actress from the mid-1930s through the 1940s. She spent her childhood in Buffalo, NY and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery there.
She created the role of Zita in Giacomo Puccini's Gianni Schicchi at the Metropolitan Opera in 1918. She was also particularly memorable as the nagging, shrewish wife of W.C. Fields in a film that many historians consider to be his best and funniest, It's a Gift (1934); she additionally appeared in two other films of W.C. Fields: You're Telling Me! (1934) and Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935) (playing his wife for a second time in the latter).
She was part of the repertory system in the opera houses of Metz and Darmstadt previous to World War I. She told of her life as an opera singer in an autobiography, Confessions of an Opera Singer (Knopf 1918).
Howard appears to have not made as many opera recordings for companies of the acoustical era such as did her contemporaries Geraldine Farrar and Mary Garden; her few recordings were vertical-cut discs made for the American branch of Pathé Frères in 1918 which received limited distribution. Among them are Harry Burleigh's arrangement of the spiritual "Deep River," arias from Charles Gounod's Faust and Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore (in English), and the "Barcarolle" from Jacques Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann with Claudia Muzio (in French). Her voice however survives in the many Hollywood comedies she made throughout the 1930s and 1940s. As with many stage-trained actors of that era, such as Margaret Dumont, Howard projected well and spoke with precise diction and a trilled "r".
|1934||Death Takes a Holiday||Princess Maria|
|You're Telling Me!||Mrs. Edward Quimby Murchison|
|It's a Gift||Mrs. Amelia Bissonette||Starring W.C. Fields|
|1935||Man on the Flying Trapeze||Leona Wolfinger||Alternative title: The Memory Expert|
|1937||Stolen Holiday||Madame Delphine|
|1939||First Love||Miss Wiggins|
|1940||Young People||Hester Appleby|
|1940||Mystery Sea Raider||Maggie Clancy|
|1941||Blossoms in the Dust||Mrs. Sarah Keats|
|Ball of Fire||Miss Bragg||Alternative title: The Professor and the Burlesque Queen|
|1942||Take a Letter, Darling||Aunt Minnie||Alternative title: Green-Eyed Woman|
|You Were Never Lovelier||Grandmother Acuña||Uncredited|
|1943||My Kingdom for a Cook||Mrs. Theodore Carter||Uncredited|
|1944||Laura||Louise, Ann's Cook||Uncredited|
|1945||Eadie Was a Lady||Aunt Priscilla Alden|
|1947||The Late George Apley||Margaret, the Maid||Uncredited|
|1948||The Bride Goes Wild||Aunt Susan|
|1950||Born to Be Bad||Mrs. Bolton|
|1951||The Bigelow Theatre||1 episode|
- Confessions of an Opera Singer freely available at gutenberg.org in many formats.
- Kathleen Howard at the Internet Movie Database
- Kathleen Howard at Find a Grave
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