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Catherine Calvert

Biography: 

(1890-1971)

Catherine Calvert, born Kittie Cassidy in Baltimore in 1890, changed her name to the more resonant Catherine Calvert at the recommendation of school chum, H.L. Mencken. She came to Broadway out of vaudeville. A protege of playwright Paul Armstrong at the Lyric Theatre, she premiered in 1911's "The Deep Purple," and followed it with Armstrong's 1912 melodrama, "Romance of the Underworld." Her third Armstrong offering, 1913's "The Escape" was an unmitigated disaster. Of her performance of a tenement girl seduced by a senator, the Times critic wrote, "the very beautiful Miss Catherine Calvert, though she conveyed in the opening act a fairly adequate suggestion of a character, gave subsequently only such a performance as might be expected from a carefully drilled amateur." Armstrong married Calvert at the end of the run.

Calvert returned to vaudeville, playing in sketches from 1914-1915, but Armstrong's sudden death in 1915 forced Calvert to rethink her career. She made her way to the film studios where melodrama was more highly regarded, and enjoyed a healthy career on the screen, receiving credit for 21 releases from 1916 to 1923, including Armstrong's "Romance of the Underworld." In 1921 she returned to the stage to play the lead in "Blood and Sand," a success that, when adapted for the screen, would become one of Valentino's greatest films. Calvert retired from Hollywood at age 35 to marry Canadian millionaire Col. George A. Carruthers. David S. Shields/ALS