Kathleen Clifford: She Never Quit

     Women have influenced the acting and cinema sector for decades. We are well aware of many Hollywood actresses who have charmed the entire world with their beauty, elegance, and talent. Marilyn Monroe, Kate Winslet, Grace Kelly, Rita Hayworth are a few of these brilliant actresses. However, we know less about the actresses who ruled the American cinema during the early 20th century. One such beautiful and stunning actresses is Kathleen Clifford. She was an American vaudeville and Broadway stage talent and film actress during this period.Clifford Kathleen

     Clifford was born on February 16. 1887 in Virginia in the United States.  Clifford’s acting career commenced on the vaudeville stages. She used to act in plays, mostly as comic relief, and was known for her impersonations of men. She was also known as “The Smartest Chap in Town” for her witty and humorous acts. Additionally, she worked in a play with a male impersonator, Bothwell Browne. Both actresses were constantly employed during those days.

     In 1907, Clifford was offered an opportunity to make her first appearance on Broadway. She accepted the offer and performed for the first time Broadway at the Lincoln Square Theatre in the J.J and Lee Schultz produced musical The Bell of London TownClifford was a prolific actor and as such, she appeared in many stage performances. Some of these are as follows:

  • In 1911, she appeared in a musical triple bill named Hell, Temptations and Gaby at the Floies Bergere Theatre.
  • During 1911-1912, she played in the original musical comedy known as Vera Violetta at the Winter Garden Theatre.
  • In 1912, she performed at in the Florenz Ziengfield musical production A Winsome Window.
  • In 1916, she worked in the H.H. Frazee Productions A Pair of Queens at the Longacre Theatre in which she was cast opposite the actor, Edward Abeles.

     Clifford also performed in major musical productions and plays.

  • In 1917, Clifford acquired the golden opportunity of making her screen debut. She was cast in a mystery serial by the director, William Bertam. The silent actor, Cullen Landis was placed in the opposite role to Clifford. During the late 1910s and the early 1920s, she acted in many high-profile performances. Her notable screen performances were as follows:
  • In 1919, she appeared in a comedy When the Clouds Roll By along with the actor, Douglas Fairbanks.
  • In 1922, she was placed opposite actors, Betty Compson, May McAvoy and Bert Lytell in a crime drama called Kick In. It was directed by George Fitzmaurice and written by Ouida Bergere.
  • She played the role of Queen Berengaria in Richard the Lion-Hearted in the year 1923 along with the actor, Wallace Beery and young actress, Marguerite De La Motte.
  • Her last silent film was in the year 1928. She was Excess Baggage along with the most famous silent actor, William Haines and was directed by James Cruze.

     Clifford’s acting career slowed down as the talkies evolved and she semi-retired. During the early stages of the emergence of sound films she made only one film, a comedy movie. She acted in  The Bride’s Bereavement along with other silent actors, Aileen Pringle, Montagu Love, Luis Alberni and Charles Ray. However, with the dawn of the sound films, she curtailed her film career to spend time on other pursuits.

       Undaunted by being unable to successfully transition to talkies, Clifford began a florist business known as Broadway Florist in Hollywood. She also spent time writing in the later years. In 1945, she wrote a children's book entitled The Enchanted Glen, Never Trod by the Feet of Men. Kim Weed provided the illustrations for this book, which was published by the Beverly Publishing. She wrote another book entitled It’s April…..Remember? The Exposition Press located in New York City published this book in the year 1955.

     Generally, actors and actresses concentrate on their acting careers. Once their career begins to fade, either with the advent of other new stars or due to other reasons, they leave the cinema. A few actors and actresses move forward and successfully pursue other hobbies and passion. Even if their acting career fades, they do not lose hope and instead cultivate other interests. This is what Kathleen Clifford did. Even though she had been a starring stage and silent film actress, she didn’t lose hope when her acting career waned once sound films entered the scene. She did not quit. Clifford was active until her death at the age of 75 on December 28, 1962 in Los Angeles.

     Women across the globe are busy with their family lives and careers. Many complain they do not have  time to cultivate their own interests. However, they should observe the examples of those such as Kathleen Clifford who never lost hope. Even if one career ends at a particular point in life, it is never too late to start over, and many women began second careers later in life. If a woman had dedication and commitment towards any aspect, she can achieve anything. 

Contributing author Manisha Ambhure is a housewife, a dedicated writer, and a professional blogger with capability to handle multiple topics. Working on a book addressing global women related issues named " As a women where do we stand?".

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