Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Born Today September 5: Doris Kenyon


Actress Doris Margaret Kenyon was born on this day in Syracuse, New York, the daughter of a Methodist minister and  poet.  She got her start in front of audiences singing in choirs.  As she progressed in her college education, first locally, and later at Columbia in New York, her voice stood out more and more.  Eventually she was noticed by theater scouts.  She made her stage debut in 1915, and only a little there after, she made her film debut as well in The Rack, a film made and distributed under  the umbrella of World Pictures.  Her industry standard 1 year contract under World provided here with numerous film roles throughout 1916.  Released from contract she made films for various early studios including Vitagraph, Pathé Exchange and Alice Guy's Solax.  In 1918, she started her own production company (not uncommon for stars of means at the time) called De Luxe in which she starred in four films, one of which--Twilight (1919)--was directed by J. Searle Dawley.  When the 1920's dawned, she was still working on the east coast, a situation that she was loathe to change, despite that she began working for production companies that had more "action" on the west coast than the east.  Fond of the stage, amazingly, she was able to stay through a goodly part of the 1920's in the New York area; even starring in a New York Paramount Studio [Queens] film with a young Rudolph Valentino:  Monsieur Beaucaire in 1924.  The Blonde Saint (1926) appears to be the first film shot in California that she starred in; the film which starred Lewis Stone, was filmed on location at Laguna Beach.  She was barely in California two years before landing a role in a very early talkie by Warner Bros.:  The Home Towners, which is unfortunately a lost film, was released in 1928 with full sound by Vitaphone.  She only made one more film in the 1920's and that was yet another early talkie.  Interference, a Paramount film, also dates from 1928 with Kenyon rounding out a cast that included Evelyn Brent, Clive Brook and William Powell.  Having done in the 1920's what many silent stars had to deal with in the early 1930's, Kenyon's transition to all talking films was pretty well cemented by the time she made Beau Bandit, a romantic western, in 1930.  She continued to work in film steadily up through the mid-1930's, when her appearances slowed.  Her last film appearance before retiring and moving on to other ventures, was in The Man In The Iron Mask a film directed by James Whale.  Kenyon moved on to radio in the 1940's, playing a very successful role on NBC's soap opera Crossroads.  She made her television debut in the 1950's on the Schlitz Playhouse.  She made two more television appearances before retiring from acting altogether.  The last of these was in the Double Date episode of The Real McCoys airing in 1962.  She died of cardiac arrest in her home in Beverly Hills on September the 1st 1979, just four days before her 82nd birthday.  She is buried at the Glendale location of Forest Lawn.  Kenyon's first marriage was to silent film actor Milton Sills, who died in 1930--they had one son together.  Famed actress Doris Day was reportedly named of her.

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