She had a voice which propelled her to movie stardom and kept her on top for many years.
She was a big star, one of the biggest at MGM in the 40s and early 50s.
Her former costar, Howard Keel, called her “the most beautiful woman in the history of movies.” And, yes, she was pals with Ava Gardner and once was romanced by Howard Hughes.
She was also a member of that tiny movie community of stars and supporting players who initially pursued careers in opera, not in Hollywood. (Members of this circle include Mario Lanza, Ezio Pinza, Margaret Dumont and Fortunio Bonanova, who so memorably plays the frustrated vocal coach in Citizen Kane.)
In 1951’s Showboat (costarring Gardner and Keel) Grayson hit really hit her cinematic stride.
Born Zelma Hedrick in North Carolina in 1922, she came from a highly musical family. Everybody sang, no one more exquisitely than Kathryn.
She was “discovered” at the impossible age of 11, and wound up on the radio. That in turn alerted the MGM brass, who signed Grayson in 1939, and provided acting (she already had plenty of singing) lessons.
Ok, on to our Kathryn Grayson Quiz. Questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Grayson was most successfully paired in musicals with Howard Keel. How many did they make together? a) Eight; b) Three; c) Four; or d) Seven.
2) Question: Which of the following did NOT costar onscreen with Grayson? a) Mickey Rooney; b) Johnny Johnston; c) Abbott and Costello; or d) Mario Lanza.
3) Question:MGM was inspired to hire Grayson to rival another young singer-actress making hit films at Universal. Can you name this highly successful performer?
4) Question: Grayson’s second husband, Johnny Johnston, had a habit which so infuriated her that their marriage was undermined. What did he do? a) Pick his nose at the dinner table; b) Drop small fortunes at the gambling tables; c) Drink too much; or d) Read to strangers Grayson’s letters detailing their lovemaking.
5) Question: Grayson worked from 1955 largely on tv but she also made some concert appearances, notably touring in Great Britain in a one-woman show. What was it called?