Kathryn Grayson was born Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick in Winston-Salem, NC, on February 9, 1922. This pretty, petite brunette with a heart-shaped face was discovered by MGM talent scouts while singing on the radio. The studio quickly signed her to a contract, and she was given acting lessons along and had to pose for countless publicity photos. Kathryn, a coloratura soprano, made her first film in 1941, a “B” picture called Andy Hardy’s Private Secretary (1941). She soon was cast opposite some of MGM’s top musical stars of the 1940s, such as Gene Kelly and Mario Lanza. She was paired with Lanza a few times, but the two never got along due mostly to Lanza’s hot temper and alcohol abuse. The pairing of Lanza and Grayson would never match the success of lyrical soprano Jeanette MacDonald and baritone Nelson Eddy, although Kathryn and MacDonald did become great friends. Jeanette became a mentor and an older sister figure for Kathryn.
Grayson’s most memorable roles came in the early 1950s. They were Show Boat (1951), where she played “Magnolia”, opposite Ava Gardner and Howard Keel; Kiss Me Kate (1953), playing actress “Lilli Vanessi”, who portrayed “Katherine” in the movie’s “show within a show”, a musical version of “The Taming of the Shrew”. In 1953 she exited MGM, then made only one more film, The Vagabond King (1956), at Paramount. She later worked in nightclubs and on stage.
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