EXPIRED: 02/17/10 – Kathryn Grayson, 88, was born Zelma Kathryn Elisabeth Hedrick in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was discovered at age 12, singing to herself on an empty stage of the St. Louis Municipal Opera House by a janitor. Luckily, he introduced her to Frances Marshall of the Chicago Civic Opera. Luckier still, Mr. Marshall gave the young singer voice lessons, and well, a star was born.
By the early 40’s she changed her name and was under contract to MGM getting parts playing Mickey Rooney’s sweetheart in Andy Hardy flicks, in Abbott & Costello movies and in big screen musicals. After several supporting roles, she was a lead performer along with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh, as well as 1951’s Show Boat and Kiss Me Kate two years later.
When movie musicals started to fade in popularity she headed to Broadway, replacing Julie Andrews in Camelot from 1962 to 1964. Later she finally got her lifelong wish: to be an opera star and performed in several operas, including La bohème, Madama Butterfly,Orpheus in the Underworld and La traviata.
On the downside, she had rent to pay. So she also had to guest starred in several episodes of Murder, She Wrote with Angela Lansbury. But that wasn’t her fault.