Katherine DeMille
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Katherine DeMille
Katherine DeMille
Katherine DeMille on the cover of Cinegraf.jpg
DeMille on the cover of Cinegraf, 1936
Born
Katherine Paula Lester

(1911-06-29)June 29, 1911
DiedApril 27, 1995(1995-04-27) (aged 83)
Other namesKatherine Lester DeMille
Katherine DeMille Quinn
OccupationActress
Years active1930–1956
Anthony Quinn
(m. 1937; div. 1965)
Children5
Parent(s)natural:
Edward Gabriel Lester,
Cecile Bianca Bertha Colani
adoptive:
Cecil B. DeMille,
Constance Adams DeMille
RelativesHenry C. de Mille (grandfather)
Beatrice deMille (grandmother)
Richard de Mille (brother)
William C. deMille (uncle)
Agnes de Mille (cousin)

Katherine Lester DeMille (June 29, 1911 - April 27, 1995) was a Canadian-born American actress who played 25 credited film roles from the mid-1930s to the late 1940s.

The adopted daughter of director Cecil B. DeMille, she was considered Hollywood royalty and was noted for her dark beauty.[1] Her first credited role was featured in Viva Villa! (1934). She signed a contract with Paramount Pictures and portrayed Princess Alice of France in her father's epic The Crusades (1935) and also starred in The Sky Parade (1936).

DeMille continued her career at 20th Century Fox and other studios until 1941, when she retired to dedicate her time to her family. She returned to films with roles in Black Gold and Unconquered (both 1947) and starred in her final film, The Judge, in 1949. In his autobiography, her father wrote that she "has carried the name deMille on for another generation in motion pictures as a talented actress."[2]

Early years

DeMille was born Katherine Paula Lester on June 29, 1911 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Her father, Edward Gabriel Lester (March 11, 1887 - June 25, 1917), was a Scottish-born English schoolteacher[3] who served as a lieutenant in the 102nd Battalion, CEF during World War I and died at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.[4] Her mother, Cecile Bianca Bertha Colani,[4] was of Italian descent and died in a Los Angeles hospital.[1] She was a paternal granddaughter of Reverend John Moore Lester, rector of Litchborough, Northamptonshire, England.[4] Her maternal grandfather, Johann Colani, was an architect.[4]

When she was eight years old, she was found in an orphanage by Constance Adams DeMille, the wife of producer and director Cecil B. DeMille.[1] The DeMilles adopted Katherine, their third child, in 1922.[5]

Career

DeMille gained experience on stage in 1930 "by acting as understudy for the feminine 'heavy' of the play Rebound" in San Francisco.[6] She wanted to begin an acting career on her own and used the stage name "Kay Marsh" whenever she worked as an extra.[7]

DeMille's first credited role was Rosita Morales, the wife of Wallace Beery's Pancho Villa, in the 1934 MGM film Viva Villa!.

Paramount Pictures (1934-1936)

She played another Mexican woman, a maid named Lupe, in the Paramount production The Trumpet Blows (1934), and her performance earned her a contract with Paramount Pictures. Her next role was Molly Bryant, the nemesis of Mae West's character in Belle of the Nineties (1934). She played the second female role in All the King's Horses (1935) at Paramount, and was loaned to Columbia Pictures for The Black Room (1935) and to 20th Century Fox for Call of the Wild (1935).

DeMille in the trailer for The Crusades (1935)

The role of Princess Alice of France in The Crusades (1935) was a Christmas gift from her father, Cecil B. DeMille. Andre Sennwald of The New York Times wrote that the actors who gave "excellent performances" in the film included "that striking brunette, Katherine De Mille."[8]Hollywood also praised DeMille, who was "splendid as the jilted Princess Alice of France."[9]

Paramount then cast her in two more leading roles; she was the sister of Buster Crabbe in the Western Drift Fence (1936) and a parachutist and the romantic interest of William Gargan in the aviation drama The Sky Parade (1936). She returned to MGM to play the uncredited role of Rosaline, Romeo's first love, in the 1936 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

20th Century Fox and other films (1936-1941)

In the mid-1930s, she signed a contract with 20th Century Fox. The studio cast her in the role of Margarita in its 1936 Technicolor film version of the Helen Hunt Jackson novel Ramona, starring Loretta Young as the title character. She was Barbara Stanwyck's rival for the love of Joel McCrea in Banjo on My Knee (1936) and played the main female role in Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937). She received third billing as an antagonist in The Californian (1937) and played a much smaller part in Love Under Fire (1937).

She went to Columbia Pictures to co-star as Jack Holt's leading lady in Under Suspicion (1937). She had a minor supporting role in the Walter Wanger production Blockade (1938), a drama about the Spanish Civil War. Again at Columbia, she was cast in the leading female role in another Jack Holt vehicle, Trapped in the Sky (1939).

DeMille in the film Isle of Destiny (1940)

DeMille played supporting roles in the Roy Rogers vehicle In Old Caliente (1939), the RKO adventure Isle of Destiny (1940), the Columbia mystery film Ellery Queen, Master Detective (1940), the Universal mystery film Dark Streets of Cairo (1940), and Paramount's Technicolor adventure Aloma of the South Seas (1941). She retired from films to raise her children and devote her time to her family.

Final film roles (1947-1949)

After a six-year absence, DeMille returned to the screen when she co-starred with her husband, Anthony Quinn, for the first and only time in the Allied Artists drama Black Gold (1947), directed by Phil Karlson. She received good notices from the critics. Motion Picture Daily opined that she deserved to share Quinn's "highest acting compliment . . . The tender byplay of their mutual understanding, respect and love provide the refreshingly different romance of the picture."[10]The Film Daily wrote: "Katherine DeMille does splendid work as Quinn's wife, who has had good schooling, but is a loyal, obedient helpmeet."[11]Harrison's Reports also commended the performances of the Quinns: "As to the acting, both Anthony Quinn and Katherine DeMille rise to the occasion."[12]

Her father cast her in a supporting role in his epic Unconquered (1947), starring Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard. The Film Daily noticed that, as the Native American wife of the antagonist portrayed by Howard Da Silva, "Miss DeMille is properly sullen and tragic."[13]

Her final credited role was Lucille Strang, the wife of Milburn Stone's character, in the film noir The Judge (1949), a Film Classics release directed by Elmer Clifton. Showmen's Trade Review praised the work of both Stone and DeMille: "The two stars, Milburn Stone and Katherine DeMille, contribute excellent acting, keeping their characterizations consistently within the film's framework."[14]

Personal life

DeMille married actor Anthony Quinn on October 2, 1937 at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills.[15] They had five children: Christopher (1939-1941), Christina (born December 1, 1941), Catalina (born November 21, 1942), Duncan (born August 4, 1945), and Valentina (born December 26, 1952).[16] Their first child, Christopher, was found drowned in the lily pond of W.C. Fields at age two.[17]

DeMille became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1938.[18]

DeMille accepted the 1953 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor on behalf of her husband, who was not present at the ceremony.[19] At the same ceremony, her father received the Academy Award for Best Picture for his film The Greatest Show on Earth.

Quinn was not a faithful husband. He wanted a divorce so that he could be free to raise his illegitimate children by an Italian woman.[20] In December 1964, Quinn sued DeMille for divorce in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and "listed incompatibility in the suit as grounds for divorce."[21] They were divorced on January 21, 1965.[22] DeMille retained her married name.[23]

Her brother, Richard de Mille, later remembered: "I was wild about Katherine. She was extremely lovable and beautiful, a terrific combination. Was she ill-used by Quinn? Absolutely, but not in a way that she resented. She was always in love with him. Cecil had respected Constance and always treated her fairly; I don't think Quinn treated Katherine fairly."[24]

Later years and death

Around 1988, DeMille moved from Pacific Palisades to Tucson, Arizona to live with one of her daughters and grandchildren.[23] She died of Alzheimer's disease[25] in Tucson on April 27, 1995.[23] She was 83.

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1930 Madame Satan Zeppelin Reveler Uncredited
1931 Son of India Amah - Karim's Servant Uncredited
Girls About Town Girl Uncredited
1934 Viva Villa! Rosita Morales
The Trumpet Blows Lupe the Maid
Belle of the Nineties Molly Brant
1935 All the King's Horses Fraulein Mimi
The Black Room Mashka
The Call of the Wild Marie
The Crusades Alice, Princess of France
1936 Drift Fence Molly Dunn
The Sky Parade Geraldine Croft
Romeo and Juliet Rosaline Uncredited
Ramona Margarita
Banjo on My Knee Leota Long
1937 Charlie Chan at the Olympics Yvonne Roland
The Californian Chata
Love Under Fire Rosa
Under Suspicion Mary Brookhart
1938 Blockade Cabaret Girl
1939 Trapped in the Sky Carol Rayder
In Old Caliente Rita Vargas
1940 Isle of Destiny Inda Barton
Ellery Queen, Master Detective Valerie Norris
Dark Streets of Cairo Shari Abbadi
1941 Aloma of the South Seas Kari
1947 Black Gold Sarah Eagle
Unconquered Hannah
1949 The Judge Lucille Strang Final credited role
1956 Man from Del Rio Woman Uncredited

References

  1. ^ a b c "Little Princess of Hollywood's Royal Family". The Mail. September 5, 1936. Retrieved 2019.
  2. ^ DeMille 1959, p. 242.
  3. ^ "Item: LESTER, EDWARD GABRIEL ". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Memorials of Rugbeians who fell in the Great War, Volume 5. Rugby School. 1919.
  5. ^ "Mary Alden "Mother" Again". The Evening News. Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. May 8, 1922. p. 14. Retrieved 2016 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  6. ^ "The Talkie Ticker". Southtown Economist. Illinois, Chicago. August 5, 1930. p. 2. Retrieved 2016 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  7. ^ Long, Peter (November 1934). "A New Katherine "The Great"?". Screenland. XXX (1): 32, 73.
  8. ^ "Cecil B. De Mille Presents His Latest Spectacle, "The Crusades," at the Astor Theatre". The New York Times. August 22, 1935. Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ "Topper's Film Reviews". Hollywood. 24 (10): 18. October 1935. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ "Review: "Black Gold"". Motion Picture Daily. 61 (123): 4. June 25, 1947. Retrieved 2020.
  11. ^ "Reviews: "Black Gold"". The Film Daily. 91 (124): 5. June 26, 1947. Retrieved 2020.
  12. ^ ""Black Gold" with Anthony Quinn and Katherine DeMille". Harrison's Reports. XXIX (26): 102. June 28, 1947. Retrieved 2020.
  13. ^ "Review of New Films: "Unconquered"". The Film Daily. 92 (60): 6. September 24, 1947. Retrieved 2020.
  14. ^ "The Box-Office Slant: Current and Forthcoming Feature Product Reviewed from the Theatreman's Standpoint". Showmen's Trade Review. 50 (6): 20-34. February 5, 1949. Retrieved 2020.
  15. ^ "California, County Marriages, 1850-1952," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8VM-KNT : 8 December 2017), Anthony Quinn and Katherine L De Mille, 02 Oct 1937; citing Los Angeles, California, United States, county courthouses, California; FHL microfilm 2,114,153.
  16. ^ Quinn Chronology Archived 2008-05-28 at the Wayback Machine (PDF)
  17. ^ Robert Lewis Taylor (1967). W. C. Fields: His Follies and Fortunes. New York: New American Library. pp. 235. ISBN 0-451-50653-7.
  18. ^ "Katherine Lester Paula De Mille Quinn - California, Southern District Court (Central) Naturalization Index, 1915-1976". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2020.
  19. ^ "The 25th Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2019.
  20. ^ "Anthony Quinn Marries". The Canberra Times. January 4, 1966. Retrieved 2020.
  21. ^ "Anthony Quinn Sues for Divorce". Albuquerque Journal. New Mexico, Albuquerque. Associated Press. December 8, 1964. p. 21. Retrieved 2016 – via Newspapers.com.open access
  22. ^ Marill, Alvin H. (1975). The Films of Anthony Quinn. Citadel Press. p. 30.
  23. ^ a b c "Katherine DeMille Quinn; Actress, Daughter of Cecil B. DeMille". Los Angeles Times. May 6, 1995. Retrieved 2019.
  24. ^ Eyman 2010, p. 485.
  25. ^ "Katherine DeMille Quinn, Actress, 83". The New York Times. Associated Press. May 6, 1995. Retrieved 2019.

Bibliography

  • DeMille, Cecil B. (1959). The Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille. Prentice-Hall.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Eyman, Scott (2010). Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781439180419.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links


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