Katherine Marlowe (actress)

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Kathryn Marlowe [1][2] (May 25, 1914 – January 2, 2010) was an American film actress in the 1930s, most notably in Dodsworth, which starred Walter Huston, Mary Astor and Ruth Chatterton. Other films included Bridal Grief, Artists and Models and China Passage.

Early years[edit]

On May 25, 1914, she was born as Kathryn Irene Rea in Corydon, Iowa to Fred Albertson Rea and Lenore Gertrude Wilson. She was raised on a farmstead in Missouri. At age 13, while living in Centerville, Iowa, she won 2nd place for piano performance in a statewide contest. She graduated from high school at the age of 15, earning scholarships to Stephens College, a women's college in Columbia, Missouri, and later to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. She worked as an accompanist for other students, and performed in Columbia, Des Moines, and Chicago as a singer/pianist, primarily in hotel ballrooms with various touring big bands. In Des Moines, she and Ronald Reagan modeled together for fashion magazines.


Before making films she worked in Chicago and New York City hotels, musical stage, and radio. She got the lead role in a new musical revue, Two for the Show, in which she introduced a song written to showcase her vocal style, "How High the Moon", which became a pop standard. According to her son, she had worked in Iowa with Ronald Reagan on radio and print advertising. After she left New York and relocated to California, originally invited to be Fred Astaire's dance partner in movies, Reagan moved there and asked to be introduced around, especially to a good agent. Rea obliged. After Reagan was signed for his first film, the contact ended. Rea was signed with Samuel Goldwyn and appeared in films with several studios under different names, such as Kay Marlowe, Katharine Marlowe, Kay Kimber, Kay Rea, Kea Rea, Kay Rhea, Kathryn Marlow, before landing on Kathryn Marlowe. She quipped that it was "because no one can understand how to pronounce 'Rea'". After leaving Hollywood, she had leads in several stage musicals in NYC and London, and roles in Television dramas. She pioneered a daily women's TV program in Ottumwa, Iowa in the early 1950s. Rea was famous for a unique piano style, and for having a three+ octave full-voice range up to high E.


Marlowe, whose stage name was Kay Kimber, married the noted band leader Roy Fox in 1943; the couple had two children, Fredrick Rea and Amanda Kathryn. This was Fox's second of three marriages. The family moved to Great Britain, where Fox enjoyed his greatest popularity. Marlowe worked as a pianist and singer, sometimes as a guest with her husband's orchestra. The marriage ended in divorce after Marlowe and the children were sent back to vacation with her parents in Iowa. Unknown to Marlowe, Fox was having a second business failure due to a his gambling and a recurring bout of pleurisy resulting in another nervous breakdown.

Her second husband, James O'Keefe, worked for the FBI. O'Keefe adopted her children. In 1956 Marlowe retired from show business altogether. She died, aged 96, from numerous debilities and a broken back.


Marlowe died at the age of 96 in Tampa, Florida after a long period of ill health.