After researching Kathleen Fitz, I can honestly say I am much impressed by this woman. While she did not have a big Hollywood career, she was a rich and varied life in other areas, some of them much more important than Tinsel Town. Smart and capable, Kathleen tailored her own destiny, was a tireless worked dedicated to her craft and later a devoted wife and mother.
Kathleen Adkisson Fitz was born on August 7, 1908 in Texas, to Theophilus Fitz and Mineola Adkisson. Her mother was previously married and gave birth to Kathleen’s older half brother, Joshua Westmoreland, in 1900.
Kathleen was brought up in a artistic and progressive family: her father, Theophilus, was a trained musician and held the spot of dean of music at the Colorado College of Education. As a result, Kathleen grew up in Denver, and was involved in music and the arts from her earliest years. In the late 1910s, the family moved to Los Angeles.
Kathleen was a serious, career minded woman with a strong strike for the academics. After attending high school in Los Angeles, she graduated from Leland Stanford University (where she regularly appeared in the college plays, including “A kiss for Cinderella” in 1927, and was in the Alpha Phi sorority), and got her M.A. degree from University of Wisconsin. She was also very close to her family – in 1930, they still lived together in Los Angeles with Joshua’s wife and small daughter.
In the early 1930s, Kathleen worked at the University of Wisconsin on her pHD, at the department of education. She was very active in the drama department, staring in several shows: “Cyrano de Bergerac“, “The insect comedy” and “Pygmalion” (as Eliza Doolittle). Soon, her love for the theatricals overshadowed her devotion to her doctoral thesis, and she left it all behind to go and study in the famed Pasadena Community Playhouse. This paved her way to Hollywood in 1933.
Kathleen only made one movie in Hollywood, Eight Girls in a Boat in 1934. Now, here is a film you can see in two ways: the first way, as an excuse to show off eight of well-developed ingenues in shorts, tight blouses and bathing suits. This automatically means the movie is a shallow albeit fun exploitation of young. On the other hand, one can see it a a drama dealing with a “quite commonplace theme of illicit motherhood with considerable delicacy and tact” (taken from this review here). However you choose to look at it, there is no denying that Dorothy Wilson was an actress of great warmth and gentleness that never amounted to much (maybe I can do a profile of her sometime in the future). It’s hard to say why, as she was not shunned in the uncredited tier as most of the girls were – she actually had her share of leading roles. Ah, the fickleness of Hollywood!
After her movie career ended, Kathleen remained very active in the theater. She was a partner of Norman Bel Geddes, noted stage designer and father of future actress Barbara Bel Geddes. She appeared in his production of Iron Men in the mid 1930s.
Soon, Kathleen moved East to play the daughter of Walter Huston in “Dodsworth”, and decided to stay in New York. She appeared in a myriad of plays like “Three man on a horse”, “Boy meets girls” and “Brother rat”. In 1938, toured all around the States with the play “Yes my darling daughter”.
In 1939, she returned to the West Coast, and started doing dramatic serials. Soon, she was a cast member of NBC’s “One Man’s Family” and contiued to work in the medium.
The first think I noticed about Kathleen that she was not a typical starlet. Let’s face it, starlets are a staple of Hollywood from the late 1900s to today – their appearance varies, but the modus opeandi is always the same. Young, fresh and typically armed with little more than beauty, they don’t dream of any great artistic achievements, bu want the fame and fortune. Kathleen was a serious, mature woman when she entered Hollywood, 26 years old. She was not a sexpot nor a dancer, never worked as a chorine, and ideologically was a dedicated actress. Accordingly, she never made any scandalous splashes in the papers.
Kathleen was quite popular while in college. In 1929, she was the girlfriend of Charley Paddock, a Olympic sprinter who held the record for the 100 yard dash at the time. Later that year, she was often seen with the slightly younger student, William “Erny” Lusby. Lusby actually took one of her classes and was so enchanted the two continued to see each other after the classes were over.
In 1936, Kathleen enjoyed a hot and steamy relationship with Stephen Fuld, who worked in the B casting at Columbia. Fuld was born in 1908 in New York, and their was a serious that almost led to the altar. They broke up for unknown reasons in mid 1937. Fuld died in 1942, serving in the US army during WW2.
Renown actor Eddie Albert became Kathleen’s beau in mid 1940. They turned serious pretty soon, and were spotted at various places in Los Angeles. Sadly, after a long courtship, they broke up in late 1941. I love Eddie Albert (he’s a riot in Roman Holiday. I’d rather choose him than Gregory Peck any day, and I love Gregory Peck, so you can imagine how delicious he is there 🙂 ) and somehow think he and Kathleen would have been a great pair! Eddie went on to marry the alluring actress Margo in 1945.
By that time, her parents were divorced, her father went on to live in Missouri as a lodger, and her mother was living with her.
Kathleen married Christopher William Hartsough on March 7, 1942. After the wedding, they went to Pensacola where Christopher joined the United States Navy Medical Corps. Christopher was born on February 18, 1908 to Christopher W. Hartsough and Mae Miller. He studied medicine and worked as a doctor before the war.
Kathleen gave up acting to devote herself to raising a family. The couple settled in San Diego, California.
Their daughter and only child, Kathleen Hartsough, was born on January 28, 1947.
Christopher Hartsough died on 23 October 1956 in Durham, South Carolina. Kathleen never remarried, and moved to Washington state at some point.
Kathleen Hartsough died on April 22, 1998, in King, Washington.