Husband Guthrie McClintic, Partner Nancy Hamilton

Queer Places:
University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14260, Stati Uniti
139 Queen St, Cobourg, ON K9A 1N1, Canada
Peter Rock, Woods Rd, Palisades, NY 10964, Stati Uniti
23 Beekman Pl, New York, NY 10022, Stati Uniti
Tisbury Village Cemetery, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, Stati Uniti
Lincoln Center, 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, NY 10023

Photographed on January 10, 1933, by Carl Van VechtenKatharine Cornell[1] (February 16, 1893 - June 9, 1974) was an American stage actress, writer, theater owner and producer. She was born in Berlin to American parents and raised in Buffalo, New York. She has been romantically linked to Tallulah Bankhead, Mercedes De Acosta, Maude Adams. Alexander Woollcott dubbed her "The First Lady of the Theater". Quicksilver (1942) by Fitzroy Davis is an unflattering portrayal of Cornell, not only the leading actress in the novel is the fictional star of Romeo and Juliet and a grasping diva, but she is also a lesbian.

Cornell was the first actress to win a Drama League Award and garnered the nickname of "'''First Lady of the Theatre'''", a title also bestowed upon her friend Helen Hayes, though each deferred the honor to the other.[2] Cornell is noted for her major Broadway roles in serious dramas, often directed by her husband, Guthrie McClintic. The couple formed a production company, which gave them complete artistic freedom in choosing and producing plays. Their production company gave first or prominent Broadway roles to some of the more notable actors of the 20th century, including many British Shakespearean actors. Cornell was noted for spurning screen roles, unlike other actresses of her day, appearing in only one Hollywood film, ''Stage Door Canteen'' (1943), in which she played herself. Cornell is regarded as one of 20th century Broadway's greatest leading ladies.[3]

In 1915, her mother died, leaving her enough money to be independent, and she left for New York City. There she joined the Washington Square Players[4] [5] and was hailed as one of the most promising actresses of the season. After just two seasons, she then joined Jessie Bonstelle's company,[6] a leading New York repertory ("stock") company that divided its summers between Detroit and Buffalo.[7] [8] [9] Now aged 25, she was consistently receiving glowing reviews.

Cornell joined with various theater companies, including the Bonstelle, that toured around the East Coast. In 1919, she went with the Bonstelle company to London to play Jo in a stage adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's novel ''Little Women''. Although the critics disparaged the play itself, they specifically mentioned Cornell as the one bright spot of the evening. The paper ''The Englishwomen'' wrote of Cornell: "London is unanimous in its praise, and London will flock to see her." Upon her return to New York, she met Guthrie McClintic, a young theater director. She finally made her Broadway debut in March 1921 in the play Nice People by Rachel Crothers. She had a small part alongside Tallulah Bankhead.

Her first major Broadway role was as Sydney Fairfield, in A Bill of Divorcement in 1921. The New York Times wrote of her performance, "[she] has the central and significant role of the play and ... gives therein a performance of memorable understanding and beauty." It played for 173 performances, well enough to be considered a hit. Afterwards, Cornell played a succession of forgotten plays.

She married McClintic on September 8, 1921, in her aunt's summer home in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada. Cornell's family often summered there among other wealthy Americans. Nonetheless, it is generally acknowledged that Cornell was a lesbian, and McClintic was gay, and their union was a lavender marriage.[10] The couple eventually bought a townhouse at 23 Beekman Place in Manhattan.[13] [14] Cornell was a member of the "sewing circles" in New York, and had relationships with Nancy Hamilton,[11] Tallulah Bankhead, and Mercedes de Acosta, among others.[12]

external image I_McClintic%20and%20Cornell%20House,%20New%20York%20City,%20NY,%20USA_2%20(2).JPG
23 Beekman Place

In the 1930s, Gertrude Macy introduce Cornell to Nancy Hamilton, who was to become Cornell's lifetime companion and lover.

For her 80th birthday party in 1973, an assistant put together a tape of birthday greetings from Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, and Ralph Richardson, among many other actors whom she had known. The tape runs for seven and half hours.

Cornell retired to her home, The Barn in Tisbury, on Martha's Vineyard with her partner Nancy Hamilton, where they lived until her death from pneumonia on June 9, 1974.[15] Hamilton died in 1985.


My published books:

See my published books

BACK TO HOME PAGE