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Birth of entertainer Kitty Carlisle Hart

September 3, 1910

Born on September 3, 1910 [some sources say 1911, 1914], Kitty Carlisle Hart began a musical career at a young age and kept performing into her nineties. Though she was born in New Orleans, she was raised partly in Paris and London, where she studied singing and acting with private tutors. She began a stage career in New York, and was then tapped by Hollywood. She made her first movie, Murder at the Vanities, in 1934.

While acting in the Marx Brothers movie A Night at the Opera (1935), she met Moss Hart, who would go on to write the plays You Can't Take it With You and The Man Who Came to Dinner, and to direct the landmark Broadway production of My Fair Lady. The two were married in 1946, and later had two children. Moss Hart died in 1961.

After her husband's death, Kitty Carlisle Hart continued to perform, appearing in the movies Radio Days, Six Degrees of Separation, and Catch Me If You Can. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1967, as Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus. From 1956 to 1991, she became known to a broad audience as a regular astute panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth. She also had a significant career offstage. From 1976 to 1996, Hart served as chairwoman of the New York State Council on the Arts. In that role, she lobbied for arts funding, once testifying before the legislature in defense of the controversial work of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. When she stepped down from the Council, Albany named a theater in her honor.

Hart was also an active philanthropist, serving on the boards of the Visiting Nurse Service and the Girl Scouts, and hosting fundraisers for the Manhattan School of Music, refugee children, American Indian causes, and democratic politicians. She published an autobiography, Kitty, in 1988.

In her 90s she performed a one-woman show entitled My Life Upon the Wicked Stage, in which she sang classics from American musical theater and told stories of working with Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, and—of course—Moss Hart. A review of the play described Hart as "a woman who has seen it all, almost done it all, and still remains sincerely curious about the world." In January, 2006, she performed a 95th birthday show. She died at her home in Manhattan in April 2007.

Sources:New York Times, August 11, 1976, October 9, 1988; Star Tribune (Minneapolis), May 19, 2002; The Christian Science Monitor, October 11, 2002; The Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 17, 2005; www.kittycarlisle.com.

KittyCarlisle0.jpg - still image [media]
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Kitty Carlisle Hart.
© Jill Krementz, all rights reserved.
Used with permission of the photographer.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Birth of entertainer Kitty Carlisle Hart." (Viewed on August 29, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/sep/03/1910/kitty-carlisle-hart>.

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