It's a sad, sad day for those of us who love MGM musicals in general and Kathryn Grayson in particular.
Miss Grayson passed away Wednesday at the age of 88. Her birthday was just a few days ago, on February 9th. Click the title of this post for the Associated Press obituary written by Bob Thomas.
Grayson's films were an important part of my teenage years, as I fell in love with MGM musicals. Her films have played the same role for my children, whose favorite films include KISS ME KATE and LOVELY TO LOOK AT. If KISS ME KATE is playing on TCM, it's usually playing on our TV, even though we own the DVD!
Grayson started out at MGM in ANDY HARDY'S PRIVATE SECRETARY (1941). She appeared in a couple of "B" movies and a black and white musical, SEVEN SWEETHEARTS (1942), played opposite Gene Kelly in THOUSANDS CHEER (1943), and hit the big time with ANCHORS AWEIGH (1945), a delightful Technicolor musical costarring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. ANCHORS AWEIGH has been one of my favorites since childhood, and it's another title I've loved being able to share with my own children.
She appeared in a number of enjoyable films in the late '40s, including TWO SISTERS FROM BOSTON (1946) with June Allyson and THAT MIDNIGHT KISS (1949) with Mario Lanza; another Lanza film, THE TOAST OF NEW ORLEANS, followed in 1950.
Grayson's best films may well be the trio she made with Howard Keel in the early '50s: SHOW BOAT (1951), LOVELY TO LOOK AT (1952), and KISS ME KATE (1953); I think the latter might be her best film performance. She was absolutely terrific as one half of the quarreling theatrical couple. (Her wig as "Kate," incidentally, made her look rather amazingly like Eleanor Parker in 1952's SCARAMOUCHE.) The first half of SHOW BOAT, in particular -- before the storyline grows more somber -- is MGM at its dazzling best.
In the '80s Grayson joined fellow MGM veteran Angela Lansbury in a few episodes of Lansbury's MURDER, SHE WROTE.
Many of Grayson's musicals have been released on DVD, though a couple are still only out on video or have not been released at all.
Grayson films ahead on the Turner Classic Movies schedule: TWO SISTERS FROM BOSTON airs on March 10th. SHOW BOAT and THE DESERT SONG (1953) will air on April 18th.
Hopefully TCM will take time out to pay tribute to a lovely lady whose career brought happiness to millions. I'm very grateful for her contributions to the MGM musical and the joy those films have brought me over the years.
February 21st Update: More links paying tribute to Miss Grayson are at the bottom of this post.
Turner Classic Movies has been running a lovely "TCM Remembers" tribute to Kathryn Grayson, replacing the usual theme with her rendition of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes."
March 4th Update: Memories of Kathryn Grayson.
March 9th Update: Turner Classic Movies will pay tribute to Grayson by devoting a 24-hour block of time to her films during this August's Summer Under the Stars festival.