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Essays

Kathlyn Williams

Cooper, Mark Garrett

Kathlyn Williams began work in motion pictures as an actress with Biograph in New York. “I was playing in stock,” she recounted to Photoplay in 1917. “One week when I was not working someone called me up from the Biograph studio and asked if I would work two days for them. I was dreadfully insulted at first, but I went out of curiosity expecting to be offered about fifty cents a day.” To her amazement, D. W. Griffith paid her ten dollars for each day’s work (77). Williams told Photoplay that she performed in three Biograph titles, but in combination, Paul Spehr and the American Film Institute catalog credit her with a total of five, with release dates beginning in 1909. Sources agree that she joined the Selig Polyscope Company in 1910 and quickly became the company’s leading actress. From the start, she played an action heroine, although she was also featured in dramatic roles. In 1913-14 she starred in the Adventures of Kathlyn, generally regarded as the first serial with “hold-over” suspense.

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Academic Units
Film
Libraries
Series
Women Film Pioneers Project
Published Here
October 15, 2019