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Kitty Carlisle: Wikis


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Kitty Carlisle Hart

Photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1933.
Born Catherine Conn
September 3, 1910(1910-09-03)
New Orleans, United States
Died April 17, 2007 (aged 96)[1][2]
New York City
Occupation Actress/Singer
Years active 1932–2006
Spouse(s) Moss Hart (married 1946, died 1961)
Official website

Kitty Carlisle (also billed as Kitty Carlisle Hart; September 3, 1910 – April 17, 2007)[1][2] was an American singer, actress and spokeswoman for the arts. She is best remembered as a regular panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth. She served 20 years on the New York State Council on the Arts. In 1991, she received the National Medal of Arts from President George H. W. Bush.


Early life

Kitty Carlisle was born as Catherine Conn (Kitty is a nickname for Catherine; the surname was pronounced Cohen) in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her family was of German Jewish heritage. Carlisle's father, Dr. Joseph Conn, was a gynecologist who died when she was 10. Her mother, Hortense Holtzman Conn, was a daughter of the first Jewish mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, and a woman obsessed with breaking into the prevailing Gentile society. (She once said to a taxi driver who asked if her daughter was Jewish, "She may be, but I'm not.")[3]

Carlisle's early education took place in New Orleans. In 1921, she was taken to Europe, where her mother hoped to marry her off to European royalty, believing the nobility there more amenable to a Jewish bride — only to end up flitting around Europe and living in what Carlisle recalled as "the worst room of the best hotel." Carlisle was educated in Switzerland (Chateau Mont-Choisi in Lausanne), then at the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics. She studied acting in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.



Early roles

After returning to New York in 1932 with her mother, she appeared, billed as Kitty Carlisle, on Broadway in several operettas and musical comedies, and in the American premiere of Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia. She also sang the title role in Georges Bizet's Carmen in Salt Lake City.

Kitty Carlisle as a guest panelist on What's My Line?


Carlisle's early movies included Murder at the Vanities (1934), A Night at the Opera (1935) with the Marx Brothers, and two films with Bing Crosby, She Loves Me Not (1934) and Here Is My Heart (1934).

Carlisle would resume her film career later in life, appearing in Woody Allen's Radio Days (1987) and in Six Degrees of Separation (1993), as well as on stage in a revival of On Your Toes, replacing Dina Merrill. Her last movie appearance was in Catch Me If You Can (2002) in which she played herself in a dramatization of a 1960s To Tell the Truth episode..


Carlisle became a household name through To Tell the Truth, where she was a regular panelist from 1957 to 1978, and later appeared on revivals of the series in 1980, 1990-91 and one episode in 2000. (One of her most notable hallmarks was her writing of the number one, when she voted number one, it was written in a roman numeral I) She was also a semi-regular panelist on Password, Match Game, Missing Links, and What's My Line.


On December 31, 1966, Carlisle made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera, as Prince Orlofsky in Strauss's Die Fledermaus. She sang the role 10 more times that season, then returned in 1973 for four more performances. Her final performance with the company was on July 7, 1973.

Personal life

Carlisle married playwright and theatrical producer Moss Hart on August 10, 1946, after having met as actors at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania.[4] The couple had two children. After Moss Hart died on December 21, 1961, Kitty Carlisle Hart never remarried, but she dated former New York governor and presidential candidate Thomas Dewey.

Known for her gracious manners and personal elegance, Carlisle became prominent in New York City social circles as she crusaded for financial support of the arts. She was appointed to various state-wide councils, and was chair of the New York State Council of the Arts from 1976-1996. She also served on the boards of various New York City cultural institutions and additionally would make an appearance at the annual CIBC World Market's Miracle Day, a children's charity event at the former CIBC Center (300 Madison Avenue). Carlisle became an early patron of Scaasi: "At Wednesday night's Broadway salute to the New York City Mission Society on its 175th anniversary at Avery Fisher Hall, the fan-bodice Scaasis unfurled again. At least one of them did, a turquoise number on Kitty Carlisle Hart, who said she's been Scaasified ever since the designer dressed her for the London opening of My Fair Lady".[5]

In her later years, she was linked romantically to the diplomatic historian Ivo John Lederer. From 1984 until Lederer's death in 1998, the two traveled widely together. Afterwards, she was known to keep company with the financier and art collector Roy Neuberger. She also widely performed her one woman show in which she told anecdotes about the many great men in American musical theatre history whom she had personally known, notably George Gershwin who proposed marriage (according to a recent interview in American Heritage magazine), Irving Berlin, Kurt Weill, Oscar Hammerstein, and Frederick Loewe, interspersed with a few of the songs that made each of them famous.

In 2006, Carlisle performed at Feinstein's at the Regency in New York City, in St. Louis, Missouri, Phoenix, Arizona, Atlanta, Georgia, and at the famed Plush Room in San Francisco. According to her official website, her appearances in Atlanta in November 2006 were her last public performances, as she had already contracted the pneumonia that would lead to her death five months later.

She died on April 17, 2007 from congestive heart failure resulting from a prolonged bout of pneumonia.[6] She had been in and out of the hospital since she contracted pneumonia some time prior to November 2006. She died peacefully in her apartment, with her son, Christopher Hart, at her bedside. She was buried in a crypt next to her husband, Moss Hart, at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.




Cultural activities


  • Carlisle, Kitty (1988). Kitty: An Autobiography. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0385244258. OCLC 18070708.  


External links


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