Kathryn Kane Poster

Biography

For a brief moment in the 30s, she was one of Hollywood's fashionable Cinderellas. Sometimes billed as 'Sugar Kane', she epitomised girl-next-door wholesomeness. Taking advantage of that appeal, her studio publicised the blonde, blue-eyed lass as the female answer to MGM's Mickey Rooney.

Kathryn grew up on a farm and was struck by the acting bug in her mid-teens -- by which time her family relocated to New York. She soon found steady work as a model with the prestigious John Powers Agency, at the same time helping to augment her family's meagre income by singing and dancing in nightclubs. Spotted by a Warner Brothers talent scout during a 1934 fashion show, she was signed to a contract and shipped off to California. Kathryn's subsequent career followed an all-too-familiar pattern: more often than not, she would be cast as hometown sweethearts or gridlocked into playing the supportive friend of the leading lady. On the few occasions she enjoyed top-billing, it was in one-reel musical specialties. Perhaps her happiest moment was on loan to Universal, where she co-starred exuberantly opposite Ken Murray and Johnny Downs in the lower half of a double bill, Swing, Sister, Swing (1938) (introducing the 'Baltimore Bubble', a short-lived dance fad). Kathryn was also the only (and, in this case, perfunctory) female in the cast of The Spirit of Culver (1939), a patriotic yarn aimed at junior audiences, designed to rejuvenate the flagging careers of former child stars Jackie Cooper and Freddie Bartholomew. On radio, Kathryn could be heard singing with the Benny Goodman Orchestra in 'Jack Oakie's College', recorded on Sunset Boulevard for CBS.

During World War II, Kathryn went on tour with the United Service Organizations (USO) to entertain overseas service personnel. In 1944, she appeared on stage in one of Earl Carroll's musical variety shows. Deserting the screen three years later, Kathryn went on to act in live theatre and (until 1989) nurtured a new career on the Californian lecture circuit as a musical teacher. Her moniker, 'Sugar Kane', was famously used by Billy Wilder for Marilyn Monroe's character in Some Like It Hot (1959). Kathryn passed away, a centenarian, on March 10, 2019 in Brentwood, California.