Saturday, February 17, 2018

Born Today February 17: Kate Bruce


Prolific silent era matronly actress Kate Bruce was born on this day in Columbus, Indiana. She started acting on the stage and made her film debut in The Fight for Freedom in 1908 in one of the films for American Mutoscope & Biograph that was ghost co-directed by D. W. Griffith to help mitigate the rather disastrous directing efforts by Wallace McCutcheon Jr.!   Bruce is known to have made at least one appearance on Broadway. She would go on to be a favorite actress for Griffith, who used her in older female parts that required a motherly type.  Once she entered pictures, her roles, though very small, were numerous.  She showed up in roles (some of them uncredited) in several of Griffith's most well known Biograph shorts, among them: The Country DoctorA Corner In Wheat, and A Trap For Santa Claus--all of them in 1909.  Of course, as an in-house actress with Biograph, she worked with other directors as well (including, most notably Travers Vale, but also J. Searle Dawley); however it was with Griffith that she is most associated in history.  The number of well known actors in the silent era that she acted along side is long and impressive as well.  That list includes: Jack Drumier, Alan Hale Sr., Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish, at least one of the Moore brothers (Owen), and Louise Vale--wife of Travers.  One of her appearances with Dorothy Gish came in Gretchen the Greenhorn in 1916, filmed at Fine Arts Film Studio on Sunset Blvd.; it was probably the largest production she had worked on to date. [It appears that Bruce's first feature length appearance in a film came in politically motivated 1915 Civilization, which involved the Ince family is various ways].  She, along with practically everyone who had had worked frequently with Griffith, ended up with bit parts in his massive Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout The Ages in 1916.  After that film's production, she resumed work for Griffith in subsequent features--working almost exclusively for him from after 1917 through to mid-1920.  Getting older, she took fewer roles as the 1920's waned on; she took no roles at all in 1926 or in 1928.  The first talkie that she worked on was The Flying Fool in 1929, a William Boyd film made for Pathe Exchange that also had a silent version.  Her last role came, predictably, in a D.W. Griffith film in 1931: she was "Granny" in The Struggle.  She then retired and returned to the east coast, where the Gish sisters helped her live a comfortable, but modest life; she passed away on the 2nd of April, 1946 in New York City at the age of 86.  She was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Queens.  

With Mabel Normand

Leave Virtual Remembrances @ Find A Grave

No comments:

Post a Comment