May Kitson

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May Kitson (1866 – 1945), born Mary Ann Morrell, was an American silent film character actor active between 1917 and 1925, known to close family as "De-ah."


Kitson was born in London, England on 29 October 1864 to Tom Morrell and Elizabeth Chandler.[1] Her family moved to New Jersey, United States in 1873. Her father died prior to immigration. Beginning in 1910 until her death Kitson continually claimed much younger ages in all census reports, altering even her eldest child's age in 1910 to support her younger claimed age.

May and John William Kitson were married in 1882 and their first child Howard Waldo was born in March 1883; a daughter Velma May followed in 1887. Kitson was widowed in February 1888 (see New York Times Feb 8, 1888 "Death of Mr. Kitson"). Robert Ellin and Kitson were co-executors of (John) William Kitson's Estate. Her husband's firm Ellin & Kitson wss changed to Ellin, Kitson & Company and the J W Kitson Estate became a silent partner until the children reached maturity.

Kitson was widowed again following a brief marriage in 1896 and again her third husband William J. Swan widowed her about 1909. She applied to the NY Court to change her name back to Mary Kitson. In 1920 she applied for a U S passport.

In November 1914 her son Waldo married Lela Cole Kitson a short story writer of western romances. In 1910 her daughter Velma married Commodore Byron McCandless a 1905 Naval Academy graduate.


According to family oral history, Kitson was approached by a New York movie agent while selling "War Bonds" in a New York bank with "Have you ever thought of working in the movies?"[citation needed]

Kitson died on 17 June 1945 on the U. S. Naval Repair Base[1] in San Diego, California at her daughter's home, the Commanding Officer's Quarters. Her ashes are near her son Waldo's in Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles formerly The Hollywood Cemetery, located opposite Paramount Studios, not to be confused with the one on the east coast.


  • The Firing Line (1919) Constance Paliser
  • Come Out of the Kitchen (1919) Mrs. Daingerfield
  • The Burning Question (1919)
  • The Woman God Sent (1920)
  • Father Tom (1921) Mary
  • The Family Closet (1921) Mrs. Dinsmore
  • Flesh and Spirit (1922) Mrs. Wallace
  • Other Woman's Clothes (1922) Mrs. Roger Montayne
  • The New School Teacher (1924) Mrs. Buck

She was also in a film with Lionel Barrymore, whose title has been lost.[citation needed]


  • May Kitson at the Internet Movie Database
  • New York Times Movie Review (12 May 1919) page 11
  • Guide to the Actors' Equity Association: Records 1913-1991 Allen, Miss Ray and May Kitson v. O'Brian Productions Father Tom (motion picture): Salary claims, 1921-1922 [1]
  • Listing of known movies:
  1. ^ a b Death Certificate of Mary Kitson; State of California, County of San Diego, Number 3767 / 45-044274, dated 18 June 1945