You are here

Katherine Grey

Biography: 

(1873-1950)

A tragedienne born in San Francisco, Katherine Grey [Katherine Best] stepped into widespread celebrity playing the lead in 1900's "Shore Acres." A careful, thoughtful actress, she excelled at the philosophical drama introduced at the end of the 19th century by Schnitzler and G. B. Shaw. She introduced the former's "The Reckoning" to English speaking audiences and popularized Shaw's "Arms and the Man." One of the actresses discovered by Augustin Daly, she first played as a fill in when Daly shipped the principles of his 5th Avenue Theatre Company to San Francisco and hired local talent for subsidiary roles. Impressed by Grey's handling of her part, he hired her and brought her east to perform in "The Golden Widow" and "The Priceless Paragon." Charles Frohman hired her to play in his productions of "Jane" and "All the Comforts of Home." Fame then came with "Shore Acres."

In 1901 Grey came close to death after contracting typhus. After her recovery, she toured with Richard Manfield in "Arms and the Man" and "The Parisian Romance" and supported Charles Coghlan in "The Royal Box." She co-starred with Nat Goodwin in "When We Were Twenty-One" and spent two years barnstorming through Australia under the management of J. E. Williamson.

A physical culture practitioner she advocated swimming in cold ocean water for health. She was known for her distaste of physical contact with men and a particular hatred of kissing co-stars on stage. Her final important role was in "The First Mrs. Fraser" at the Berkshire Playhouse in 1933. David S. Shields/ALS