An icon of the screen musicals during her heydays – between the late 1940s and 1950s, Kathryn Grayson was a vocally and visually remarkable actress cum singer. She graced more than a few of the most popular movies of the postwar era, including Kiss Me Kate of 1953 and Anchors Aweigh released in 1946. Naturally endowed with a coloratura soprano voice from her formative years, a teenage Kathryn inadvertently caught the attention of Louis B. Mayer – MGM chief who signed her on without the benefit of drama lesson or even a screen test.
Kathryn Grayson was sadly lacking in formal training which left her rather wanting as a screen performer but her unique voice, combined with her outstanding looks, earned her leading roles alongside screen legends who were viewed as some of the major male musical performers of that period. The list of her male co-leads include the likes of Gene Kelly, Mario Lanza, Gordon MacRae, Frank Sinatra, as well her favorite co-star Howard Keel who appeared in several hit productions with her. However, the downfall of the Hollywood musicals saw the end of her screen career but she remained active on the stage in musicals, plays, and opera for the next 50 years while the best of her efforts in the movies earned her classic status which ensured her screen immortality. Even after her death which occurred on the 17th of February 2010, the memories she left behind live in the hearts of her fans forever.
Kathryn Grayson – Biography
Although she grew up in Kirkwood, Missouri, where her family relocated to in 1927, Kathryn Grayson was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in the United States, on the 9th of February 1922. She came as the third child of the Hedrick family with her dad Charles E. Hedrick of Polish, Hungarian, Siberian and German decent working as a building contractor-realtor and her Siberian, English and Native American mum Lillian Grayson Hedrick lived from 1897 to 1955. The name Kathryn Grayson was just a stage name which she got from a combination of her middle name and her mum’s middle name but her given name at birth was Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick.
She grew up alongside siblings who also had proficiency in singing as both her older brother Michael Butler and younger sister Frances Raeburn appeared with her in the 1942 movie Seven Sweethearts. She had a second brother named Harold. Her rise to fame was a result of an accidental discovery; she went to sing on the vacant stage of the St. Louis Municipal Opera House where she was spotted by a janitor who wasted no time in introducing the 12-year-old Kathryn to Frances Marshall of the Chicago Civic Opera who proceeded to organize voice lessons for her. Her teenage years were filled with her budding career on the operatic stage while she pursued her formal education at Manual Arts High located in Los Angeles. The solos Kathryn Grayson performed in both school and place of worship attracted the right attention with the likes of Art Rush at RCA Redseal Records offering her singing contracts.
Kathryn lived life to the fullest during her lifetime as she wedded a couple of times, first with veteran actor John Shelton. Their union was somewhat dramatic as they had to elope to Las Vegas to tie the connubial knot on the 11th of July 1941, after an 18-month-long courtship. The duo met at a screen test and subsequently became an item. Their divorce would have come sooner than 17th June 1946 but was earlier dismissed by a judge which engendered a short-lived reconciliation. Kathryn Grayson later slammed John with charges of mental cruelty which brought their union to an end.
Barely one year after her official divorce from her first husband, Kathryn Grayson took a second dive into the realm of matrimony but this time, her spouse was Johnnie Johnston who earned a living as singer cum actor. Their nuptials took place on the 22nd of August 1947 and lasted until the 3rd of October 1952 when it ended in a divorce which Kathryn was granted on the grounds of mental cruelty from her spouse. Their five-year relationship gave rise to a daughter Patricia “Patty Kate – Kathryn’s only child who was born in 1947. Patricia had a couple of children Jordan and Kristin Towers from her marriage to Robert Towers. Jordan, AKA Jordy Towers later became the lead vocalist for the band SomeKindaWonderful.
An accurate estimation of her net worth has never been made public but it is believed that she made a lot of money during her active years on the screen which spanned for over five decades.
The description “pretty, petite brunette” is just a tailor-made depiction of Kathryn Grayson whose beautiful heart-shaped face is forever committed to the memory of her fans. She stood at a height of 5 feet 2 inches. Her bust, waist, and hips measured 31-23-33.