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Catherine Dale Owen

Biography: 

(1903-1965)

A Kentuckian educated at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Catherine Dale Owen combined superlative beauty with a graceful stage manner. As an eighteen-year-old student, Owen became the special project of Mrs. Frank Gilmore, the executive secretary of Actors Equity, who engineered her Broadway launch in 1921's "Happy Go Lucky." An ingenue, Owen quickly made her mark, appearing in "The Bootleggers" (1922) and "The Whole Town's Talking" (1923). In 1925 she was named one of the ten most beautiful women in the world.

Owen's stage career climaxed in the Ferenc Molnar hit, "The Play's the Thing" (1926-1927). From 1924 until 1928 she made repeated screen tests without being signed as a lead. The coming of sound made her refined speaking style an advantage. John Gilbert lobbied to obtain her as lead for "His Glorious Night." Gilbert's first sound feature became one of the infamous films of the era of the transition to sound, a stilted costume drama that killed his career. Though Owen's acting in the film is curiously lifeless, she was sufficiently photogenic to survive for two years in Hollywood, appearing in seven further features, mediocre items with high culture overtones. The best of these is the now lost operetta, "The Rogue Song," that marked the film premiere of singer Lawrence Tibbett.

She married stock broker Milton F. Davis, Jr. in 1934, divorced him in 1937, and remarried advertising executive Homer Metzger. David S. Shields/ALS