April 19, 2007

Goodbye, Kitty.

Kitty Carlisle Hart has died: "the supremely elegant actress, singer, arts advocate and TV personality" was 96.

I remember seeing her all the time, back in the 1960s, on the TV show "To Tell the Truth." You can see a whole segment of the show here with the panelists -- including Kitty in her glory -- trying to guess which of three contestants is really the whale rider. (Embedding is disable, so you have to click over to see it. Kitty first appears at about 3:00.)

It was nice to see her, 20 years ago, in the fine Woody Allen movie, "Radio Days." "Radio Days" was a reverie about the past, and I feel a twinge seeing how long ago "Radio Days" itself was. Kitty sang "They're Either Too Young or Too Old," and I can't find a YouTube clip of that, but I can find the song, sung back in its original time, 1943, by Bette Davis. I hope it doesn't violate some rule to bring a superior diva into another's obit post:



ADDED: In the comments, Madison Man reminds me that Kitty played the ingenue --Rosa Castaldi -- in the great Marx Brothers movie "A Night at the Opera." You can see -- and hear -- quite a bit of her in this clip:



Alone with a sigh of romance!

Oh, there she is with both Chico and Harpo jumping up on her at the same time. That young woman must have been pretty strong. You could almost predict that she'd live to be 96.

18 comments:

rsb said...
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rsb said...

sorry to hear that, she was a staple on To Tell The Truth and one of those people that it was comforting to know was still around...she was just here in San Francisco last year at The Empire Plush Room.

Irene Done said...

You know, one of the obits I read yesterday quoted Hart as saying that she loved television because more people knew her from To Tell The Truth than from her movies or stage work. This is how I knew her -- that show was on every evening in our house. This was the 70s (it was syndicated then) and no one on TV dressed that glamorously or spoke with such a formal accent. She was mesmerizing.

MadisonMan said...

My son was just watching A Night at the Opera last week. Thanks for the performances!

reader_iam said...

I liked watching that show, too. I especially liked trying to imitate the way Hart spoke--I wanted to sound like her!

Also, I loved the fact that she had been married to Lorenz Hart, whose songs I did, and do, adore, like my mother.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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Internet Ronin said...

A remarkable woman. A remarkable life.

Thanks for the clip, too.

Steven said...

She was married to Moss Hart, the playwright, not Lorenz Hart.

johnstodder said...

I feel the same way. Every Sunday night on that silly game show, she opened up a whole imaginary world to me of classy people, Opening Night, women wearing "gowns," and everyone speaking in an accent that seemed to be from the most wonderful imaginary country on earth. She never fell off that perch for me. Every time I'd read an interview with her, all she did was reinforce my yearning to be in her world -- as long as she was around, it was alive.

One of the great things about her: She was a widow who derived strength from the idea that she should never do anything to diminish her husband's memory. Sounds like self-sacrifice, and certainly it was, but it was also a code to live by, that kept her strong for decades.

Truly irreplaceable.

Roger said...

6 PM on sunday nites with moderator john charles daley; panelists were kitty carlyle, bennet cerf, dorothy kilgallen, and often Moss hart, Kitty's hubby. And the feature of the show was the mystery guest whom the panelists had to guess--they put on their blindfolds, and john charles daley would say "would the mystery guest sign in please." for ultimate trivia buffs it was sponsored by stopette deodorant in the plastic squeeze bottle.

It was also, as several commentors have said, a look at new york literary and theatrical society.

Roger said...

And I do believe it was john charles DALY without an e

lohwoman said...

Perhaps she was on "What's My Line?" (are you thinking of Arlene Francis and her husband, Martin Gable?) but I remember her from years and years of "To Tell the Truth." What a smile, what grace! We saw her perform in Kansas City in 2003. She stood on that stage for ages, glamorous in a glittering white gown and singing, telling stories and making us all delighted we'd come.

Arlene Francis, BTW, lived until age 94. Something to be said for dressing well, taking care of yourself and being quick to laugh.

Beth said...

Though she hadn't lived in New Orleans since her childhood, she ranks a personal obitituary in our newspaper, and well she should:

"Mrs. Hart, who was born Catherine Conn, lived in a house on St. Charles Avenue. An only child, she attended Isidore Newman School and Louise S. McGehee School. Shortly after her father died of a heart attack in 1920, her mother sold the house and left town."

That tells me the Conns would have been quite well off to live on St. Charles, and for her to attend those schools. The motto of McGehee girls is "noblesse oblige," which has always amused me.

Roger said...

lohwoman--I do believe you are correct! Thanks for helping sort out my crossed synapses.

SteveR said...

Definetly a reminder of a class and grace not often seen nowdays.

Also nice to have a peek at the greatness of Margaret Dumont going at it with Graucho.

blake said...

I never could figure out how they picked who was going to be on those game shows.

When I was a kid it wasn't so much Kitty Carlisle as JP Morgan and Charles Nelson Reilly.

MrBuddwing said...

According to the Internet Movie Database, Kitty Carlisle Hart appeared five times on the original "What's My Line?" One of those appearances, most notably, was right after the death of regular panelist Dorothy Kilgallen.

Internet Ronin said...

This reminded me of Henry Morgan and how I always wondered who he was. So I just looked him up. Now I know he was a comedian way before his time, and I want to buy his autobiography - it may be largely fictional but the extended quotes I ran across were hilarious.