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February 18, 2010

Kathryn Grayson, the endearing soprano/movie star, dies at 88

Seems hard to believe now, but there was a time when they made movie musicals all the time, and even featured singers with true operatic voices. One of the finest, Kathryn Grayson, died Wednesday at 88, "of natural causes at her Los Angeles home," according to her "longtime companion and secretary, Sally Sherman," reports the AP.

Miss Grayson had a good deal of what they used to call star quality, along with a pretty, flexible, well-focused soprano and abundant taste. Some of her film appearances in the 1940s and '50s include "Show Boat," "Kiss Me Kate," and "Anchors Aweigh," along with some movies with co-star Mario Lanza.

In memory of Miss Grayson, here are some clips that, I think, capture her musical personality beautifully:

Posted by Tim Smith at 2:13 PM | | Comments (14)


I have been friends with Kathryn's daughtrer, Patti, since our junior year of high school. I just spoke to her. Patti is in great pain and will need the support and love of those who care about her and remember her mother as I do with tremendous fondness. Kathryn was always very kind to me and liked that Patti and I were friends. I loved Kathryn's huge 2-story living room and when she sang by the grand piano it filled the room with such beauty. I met Johnny Johnston (Patti's father) on several occasions and also Ann Miller who was great friend of Kathryn. I had hoped to go see her but I waited too long. I will miss her kind voice and the soft way she hugged goodbye.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. TIM

Thank you for the video of Kathryn. She was so beautiful and had a lovely voice. Watching the old movies and musicals from that era make me think of my parents.

I'm glad you liked them. What a different era it was. TIM

What a lovely post from Kitty!

It was my pleasure to work with Kathryn years ago ... when Patti Kate was just a little girl ... and memories overwhelm me. All of us who knew Kathryn are broken-hearted. She never veered from that kindness and sweetness which were her hallmark.

I alerted some of the press this am and was surfing the web to see what was being picked up and found your page. Kathryn would be so appreciative of your loving and elegant tribute, Tim! Thank you!

My words don't really do her justice, but thanks. TIM

I will miss her dearly, I been a big fan since I was 8yrs old, now Katherine and Mario Lanza can get together and sing to the Gods.

the most beautiful lady in Hollywood

Another great one has left us to join those in musical heaven. What a great time they must have.
Kathryn Grayson will be remembered for her wonderful roles with Mario Lanza in "Toast of New Orleans," and "That Midnight Kiss." Her other films, notably, "Anchors Aweigh," in 1945 were memorable as well.
On the lighter side, remember her at the beauty parlor with Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) in the " Murder, She Wrote" episodes?
Another major loss for the industry.

I always enjoyed watching the movies that Ms. Grayson made for MGM. My favorite is Kiss Me, Kate, co-starring Howard Keel. May She Rest in Peace. Eugenia Renskoff

The Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship pays homage to this beautiful, talented and gracious friend. We will never forget you. There will never ever be another you.
Bravo Kathryn Grayson! You gave the world such joy. Rest in Peace.

I first heard and saw Kathryn Grayson as a child. She and Ann Miller were always my favorites. Her passing is indeed the end of a magnificent era. We are blessed to have her film and recordings but I am sure the loss to her daughter, family and friends is awful.

What an elegant magnificent songbird Kathryn Grayson was. She was kind to everyone, and was often a guest at the banquet of the Jeanette MacDonald International Fan Club. God bless her.

I was 12 in 1946 when I first saw Kathryn Grayson in a movie theater in "Ziegfeld Follies." After that I never missed her films and later caught up on many of the older ones. Although I love all her selections, my favorite has always been the "Bell Song" from "Lakmé," featured in "It Happened in Brooklyn" (1947).
Kathryn was beautiful and a glorious singer. She made it seem so effortless. She was blessed with a great talent, and the world was blessed to have heard her voice.

Thanks very much for sharing. I share your enthusiasm for her "Bell Song." TIM

The angels are in full voice again. We will miss her down here on earth.

I am glad I met her years again and so happy I have my own copy of Show Boat, KIss Me Kate, Anchors Aweigh. Thousands Cheer, Music for Millions, Till the Clouds Roll By, It Happened in Brooklyn, and more.

That sweet smile, cuter nose and thrilling voice.

Rest in Peace and Thank You

In the Rex Reed interview with Ava Gardner (at The Plaza Hotel in the
60s) she responded to his comments about not doing her own singing in Showboat, "They told me I couldn't sing--up against Pros like Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson. Pros! She had the biggest boobs in Hollywood. I mean I like Gracie, she's a sweet girl, but with her they didn't even need 3-D!"

A year has come and gone since Kathryn left us. I still have to shake myself occasionally to believe that she's gone. I first heard her in "Kiss Me Kate" in the summer of 1954. I was only 8 years old at the time, but went back the next day and saw the movie again. Every since then, she's been a "heart throb." I never got to meet her personally, and will always have those regrets. From every account I've read about her, she cared a great deal about people. She had to have been one of the nicest and most talented individuals ever. May she truly rest in peace, and let's know that Heaven has another shining angel. God bless her.

Such a beautiful voice from such a beautiful person. The world needs more of that.

Amen. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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