Husband Paul Guilfoyle
Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale) Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Kathleen Mulqueen (August 6, 1899 - May 10, 1990) was an actress, known for Arrest and Trial (1963), Dennis the Menace (1959) and One Step Beyond (1959). She was called by one critic "The most beautiful girl on Broadway." While a teenager, Mulqueen met “the love of her life”, Hazel Dawn, an actress with whom she remained intimate but platonic friends for nearly half a century.
Katherine Agatha Mulgreen was born on August 6, 1899 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Because her mother had died in childbirth, Kathleen was reared by her father's spinster sister and educated at a convent day school in Philadelphia. Her mother's German relatives were affluent brewers and bankers, who lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Kathleen, throughout her childhood and adolescence, spent her summers.
While a teenager, Mulqueen met "the love of her life," Hazel Dawn, an actress with whom she remained intimate but platonic friends for nearly half a century. When Dawn was starring on Broadway in The Pink Lady in 1911, Mulqueen wrote her "such a charming mash note" that the actress invited the young fan to visit her backstage in her dressing room. According to Kaier Curtin, Mulqueen's foster son, for more than forty years thereafter, Mulqueen became "an almost familial figure, another younger sister, not only in Hazel Dawn's life, but in that of her husband and her two children."
At sixteen, Mulqueen was spotted by a Broadway talent scout when she made her stage debut in the chorus of a musical in Allentown. She went on to chorus lines and ingenue roles in New York. In 1922 she opened (under the name Catherine Mulqueen) in Molly Darling, a musical comedy starring Jack Donahue. Three years later she was starring as Irene in Eddie Dowling 's revival of his musical comedy Sally, Itene and Mary (which he cowrote with Cyrus Wood and first presented on Broadway in 1922). In this production, the actress began wing the name Kathleen Mulqueen.
Celled by one critic "The most beautiful girl on Broadway," Mulqueen performed in musical pieces in New York, across the country on road tours in stock company drama, and on the vaudeville circuit. She appeased in Kosher Kitty Kelly (1925), The White Sister (1927), and To-Morrow (1928), among many others.
She eloped in April 25, 1929 with John Henry Hewlett (1905–1968), a reporter from the New York Times. Their Marriage Record was found in New York, New York City Marriage Record, 1829-1940. Katherine later went to Cuba to obtain a quickie divorce.
Mulqueen met Paul Guilfoyle in the 1920s when both were acting in New York, attending the same parties, and running around wirh the same theater crowd. They became "Broadway buddies." Both were young, attractive, and talented, and they "made a charming couple, right out of a Noel Coward comedy, seemingly lovers, particularly witty, erudite, popular and sophisticated."
At the age of thirty, and still a maiden lady, Mulqueen "became increasingly uncomfortable ar her family's concern abort her 'unnaturally' long-term friendship with Havel Dawn." Her adopted son, Kaier Curtin believes pressure from her father partly motivared Mulqueen impulsively to elope with John Henry Hewlett (1905–1968), a reporter from the New York Times. Their Marriage Record was found in New York, New York City Marriage Record, 1829-1940. "On that disastrous honeymoon," Mulqueen confessed to her foster son, "I realized immediately that I had made an error in judgement and soon shipped myself off to Cuba to obtain a quickie divorce."
Her sudden divorce may have "made her Catholic family even more suspicious about her sexual predilection, so Kathleen decided to marry her longtime, social 'beard' and good time Broadway buddy, Paul Guilfoyle." She was well aware that Guilfoyle "had been sexually involved with a series of gay lovers but naively believed that he would change and settle down, perhaps even become celibate and satisfied enough, as she would be, with a compatible 'marriage of true minds'."
Hazel Dawn, who was living in retirement in Beverly Hills after a successful film career, encouraged Mulqueen and Guilfoyle to move to Hollywood, where, like many other stage actors during the Depression, they might find work in motion pictures. The couple moved to Los Angeles in 1935. Guilfoyle fortunately secured a longterm contract at RKO Stu-dios, where he made some twenty-five films over the next fifteen years. In the 1950s, he directed more then 150 television shows, including episodes of Highway Patrol and Sea Hunt. But by the late 1930s, he had become an alcoholic, in part, perhaps, because be was leading a double life; he was secretly an active homosexual but publicly a married man. Also he suffered from depression over the birth of his and Kathleen's child, Anthony (1936–1988), who was afflicted with Down syndrome. He joined Alcoholics Anonymous, where he met and became friends with other Hollywood actors, a of whom helped each other to remain sober.
Kathleen, aware of her husband's sexual adventures, "was worried sick that he might be arrested." Los Angeles "was a hotbed of homophobic entrapment before, during, and after World War II," and Guilfoyle was caught in the late 1940s in a police dragnet operation. The shacking report of his arrest appeared on the from page of the Los Angeles Times. Both Guilfoyle and Mulqueen withdrew socially in humiliation. As a consequence of the scandal, he was "blackballed" and never again appeared on the screen. "What saved Kathleen's sanity during the long period when Paul was unemployable was an unexpected chance to resume her acting career with a bit part in the film Marty." Thereafter, she was cast in numerous small character roles in films and on television, including a continuing role as the grandmother in the comedy series Dennis the Menace.
At the end of the 1950s, Guilfoyle was again entrapped in a compromising situation. This time he was blackmailed. Afraid to even tell his wife, rather than resorting to his old habit of alcohol—but unable to cope-he became addicted to codeine. He became irrational and unpredictable and so distressed his son Anthony, that Kathleen insisted that he move out of the house. Despair and humiliation overwhelmed him, and in June 1961 he committed suicide. Mulqueen "never again spoke of Paul Guilfoyle, either in bitterness or compassion" until the AIDS epidemic hit in 1981-82. "Thank God, he's not alive," she said. "He'd be one of the first to come down with it."
It was not until her 90th birthday that Mulqueen admitted that she had been a closeted lesbian all of her life. "Because of those Irish nuns and my Catholic, old maid aunt, I was brought up to believe that sex was dirty. That may be why I never acted upon whatever attraction I might have unconsciously had to women. I never had a lesbian friend (that I was aware of). Even when aware that certain women were rather butch, I thought them only to be asexual tomboys, whose obviously masculinity was particularly unattractive to me. I would have wanted no more to do with them than with men, all of whom I found sexually repugnant. Had I only had the courage to follow my natural inclination when infatuated with such feminine and beautiful stars as Hazel Dawn!"
She died at the age of 90 on May 10, 1990 in a Canyon County retirement community in California.
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