GENERAL ARTICLES

Mr. and Mrs.

Ontario-born Gene Lockhart and his wife, Kitty, have played in twenty movies in two years—Theirs is a unique success story

ANGUS McSTAY April 1 1937
GENERAL ARTICLES

Mr. and Mrs.

Ontario-born Gene Lockhart and his wife, Kitty, have played in twenty movies in two years—Theirs is a unique success story

ANGUS McSTAY April 1 1937

Mr. and Mrs.

GENERAL ARTICLES

Ontario-born Gene Lockhart and his wife, Kitty, have played in twenty movies in two years—Theirs is a unique success story

ANGUS McSTAY

TO A GREATER degree than any Court of Domestic Relations, the Lockharts have brought a sense of tolerance to many an otherwise tottering marriage. You sit in the half-dark of your favorite motionpicture theatre, and you loathe the pair as they bitterly quarrel and nag on the screen.

Husbands and wives in the audience flinch at the invective the two hurl back and forth ; young lovers hold each other’s hands and lean across to whisper ardently, “We’ll never be like that !”

And when the lights go up and the last bar of “God Save the King” lias been played, the married folk go home secure in the belief tliat their respective mates are not so bad after all and that conditions around the house could be worse.

Gene and Kitty Lockhart have been married, to each other only, for more than thirteen years. This fact gives the two a Hollywood distinction that is the wistful envy of many of their associates.

Since the start of what might be called their professional married life, the Lockharts have bickered bitterly on stage, screen and radio, yet their private married life is particularly tranquil, and marked by an admiration and affection for each other that is often a little wearing unless the onlooker knows them well.

They have a pat philosophy for which the rude can find no answer. “Why quarrel in private,” Gene once said, “when we’re paid to do it in public?”

An Ontario Boy

IOCKHART was born in London, Ontario, of Scottish J and Irish parentage. His family tree includes the name of Gibson Lockhart, Sir Walter Scott’s biographer. He is the son of J. Coates Lockhart, famous Scottish concert singer who twice appeared before King Edward VII in command performances at Sandringham and Balmoral.

At the age of six, Gene Lockhart was one of the members of a variety revue in which his father was the star. This resulted in the youngster’s first trans-Canada tour. In kiltie costume, he sang and nightly did a Highland fling. When the troupe retraced its steps back to Toronto, Mrs.

Lockhart put her foot down ; her boy was going to live a normal life instead of traipsing over Canada. She enrolled him in Loretto School; later he attended de la Salle school, afterward entering St. Michael’s College.

Lockhart today is still a hefty lad, despite his Spartan exercise. Throughout his schooldays, his fellows called him Eat; he still winces at the mention.

But like most portly youngsters, he was popular. He could play the piano, sing a comedy song, and have the young and old alike applauding at his monologues. In all school and college entertainments, he played a prominent part.

In addition, young Lockhart was an athlete. He won the one-mile swimming championship of Canada in 1909. He rowed for the doughty Argonauts. He played rugby for St. Michael’s in those glamorous days when Jimmy Disette, Bob Stormont, Basil Doyle, Glad Murphy and Smirlie Lawson were in the intercollegiate headlines.

Glad Murphy, boon companion of Lockhart, was killed playing football; Smirlie Lawson became a widely-known surgeon and owner of race horses; Lockhart’s closest friend today is one of those erstwhile gladiators of the gridiron, Father Basil Doyle of St. Peter’s Church, Toronto.

Despite his weight. Gene was always a splendid ball carrier, a master of the art of change of pace and tricky sidesteps. A highlight of his rugby career, still remembered by contemporaries, was the game in which he evaded eighteen tackles; he was down but always up again.

Cieñe Meets Kitty

AND SO Gene Lockhart’s life was full when Kitty -cV Arthur came to town. She was bom in Portsmouth, England, but her family crossed to Canada when she was in her teens. Her mother was Selena Barber, the English concert contralto; her uncle was Alfred Barber, famous organist of St. James’s Church, London.

Kitty Arthur was auburn-haired and slim. She had those big and expressive eyes so often seen in Englishwomen. She still possesses all these attributes.

Like Lockhart, Kitty had a scrapbook, too, and a diploma from the Royal Academy of Music. She was a fullfledged specialty artist, the clippings showed. She had gone up to London with her father on a business trip and, while he was otherwise engaged, had secured an interview with none other than St. John Denton, still known as the “gentleman agent” and at that time the personal representative for Mr. George Arliss.

Kitty could sing and dance, and she was given a part in a Christmas pantomime, “Sinbad the Sailor.” She was sixteen at the time and could not sign the contract. Her father was finally persuaded to attach his signature for the legal protection of the minor.

She later played the principal boy roles in “Robin Hood” and “Cinderella;” and they say that, when she was on stage, you could hear a Mayfair monocle drop. When her father decided, for business reasons, to move the family to Canada, Kitty preferred to accompany her people and gave up her British stage career. This was a lucky decision for Lockhart.

The Arthur family settled in Toronto. Kitty shortly afterward became soprano soloist at St. Thomas’ Church. Gene Lockhart one day heard and saw the new arrival. From then on, he slipped away from his companions of a Sunday to sit, look and listen. He finally met the lady and was shy. There was so little, he began to think, that he had done. t

Mrs. Lockhart liked her boy to stay at home; at least one man of the family should be around the house. Gene had sold real estate and typewriters, later become a news-

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Mr. and Mrs.

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paper columnist. He was still envious of his father’s stage success.

He decided to put down on paper the melodies he had been picking out at home on the piano. Two or three songs were published and had a moderate success. He was walking down Yonge Street one day when he ran into Ernest Seitz, who seemed a little excited. Seitz, one of the Lockhart coterie, had written a melody that was haunting him night and day, but he couldn’t think of a title, much less a lyric.

Seitz and Lockhart found a piano and the composer produced his manuscript. Lockhart listened, jotted notes on the back of an envelope and made suggestions as to rounding out the popular appeal, these being based on his knowledge of the music market tastes. Seitz made some changes and, some hours later. Lockhart went home to brood over the setting of the lyrics.

The joint result of their efforts was “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise,” a number which, it is safe to say in this instance, won world-wide popularity. Both made a small fortune out of the ballad; it is still being played after more than a decade, and the royalty cheques continue to come in at intermittent periods.

In the meantime, Kitty Arthur and her scrapbook had gone to New York City. She followed Violet Heming in the leading role of “Three Faces East.” She had the beloved name ¡Dart in one of the companies of the musical comedy. “Irene.” She followed this on Broadway with the feminine lead in “Talking Parrot.”

While this was going on, Gene Lockhart wrote, directed and produced “The Pierrot Revue” and toured Canada with the troupe. Hardly a day went by that Lockhart and Kitty Arthur didn’t write each other. Then Gene slipped down to the cod-fishing centre of New England and got an engagement playing comedy roles with the Boston Opera Company.

Later, he was first grave-digger in the John Barrymore production of “Hamlet.” He wrote a song called “Moon Dream Shore,” and this became a hit. Other lilts of the restless rhymer were “It’s Home to Me” and “The Way to Your Heart.”

Kitty Arthur (Kathleen on the program) was now the prima donna of the Savoy Theatre and was starring in Gilbert and Sullivan. The Savoyards left New York for Chicago and Lockhart couldn’t stand the separation. In a few days, he too left for the Lake Michigan metropolis. Kitty Arthur and Gene Lockhart were married.

All-Round Success

SINCE THAT day, the two have been inseparable and remain a constant and delightful wonder to their friends. They early decided that the stage and its demands would never part them. Both have since worked together, and their careers have been distinguished, separately and as a team.

Always a hard worker, Lockhart after his marriage exerted even greater energy, lie early saw the possibilities of radio and wrote the famous “Lockharts at Home”

series, in which husband and wife played husband and wife, but vastly different from their own home atmosphere.

Lockhart ran out of ideas and closed the series, but the sponsors and the dialtwirlers wanted more. He wrote “The Lockharts Abroad” and. in addition to co-starring in this series, found time to write “The Adventures of Eraine” for Irene Bordoni’s radio performances, and the “Broadway Vanities” series for Everett Marshall, the singer.

He collaborated with Deems Taylor on “Heigh-ho,” a musical fantasy. He became director of stage technique and pantomime at the famed Julliard Institute in New York City. He wrote “Sketches from Life” in which he and his wife enjoyed that stage popularity which now attaches to Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence.

He starred in “Beggars on Horseback” and “The Show-off.” He wrote a book on the history of the ballet. In this span of his career, he also found time to write the “Lazy Dan” series for Irving Kaufman, this radio program running for four years.

When Lockhart wasn't acting, he was either writing or directing. One of the most versatile men today in all branches of the theatre, he has been pungently titled a “one-man theatre with the fidgets,” this tribute coming from the legendary Dick Maney, Broadway’s leading exploitation counsel.

There is no doubt that the Canadian, if asked to designate his calling, might quite honestly write down actor or monologist, pianist or librettist, singer or composer, lyrist or director. The only thing he cannot do is dance.

Lockhart deserted his radio activities temporarily to play the role of Syd Davis, the cheerful but inebriated journalist in Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness.” A prized possession today is Lockhart’s personal script, on the flyleaf of which the playwright wrote, “Every time you came on, I wanted to burst into song!”

A movie scout from Hollywood was present at the New York opening. Lockhart found himself signing a motion-picture contract. When the Broadway engagement ended after several months, he and Mrs. Lockhart left for the Coast. Gene waited for weeks for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to get started on the picture version. Incidentally, he was paid for sitting around in idleness.

When the time came to cast the movie adaptation, the Syd Davis part was given to Wallace Beery. This must have been disappointing to the man who had created the stage role, but what makes Lockhart’s

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friends admire him is his lack of grouching. He smilingly, if slightly ruefully, admitted that Beery was known to the film fans and Lockhart wasn’t. Since that occasion, Lockhart has appeared in many Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer productions.

Another astute movie scout saw Kitty Arthur, and now the Lockharts are together on the screen, as they are in every other phase of their existence.

Their Hollywood Home

' I 'HEY HAVE kept their feet on the

ground. Just as there are two sides to every question, there are two sides to Hollywood, they found. There is the city of scintillating glamor, love affairs and tragedies that make newspaper headlines and fodder for the fans; there is the city in which several thousand people engaged in film production are seriously concerned with the problem of earning a living, paying the gas and grocery bills, and enjoying the company of very rational people.

The Lockharts took the middle of the road. Gene relates how one individual took him to one side and voluntarily offered staid advice as to the formula by which the movie moguls arc most usually impressed. The Lockharts must refuse mediocre roles and exhibit temperament. On the contrary, the two agreed with each other to take the parts assigned them and listen to directors. They realized they were working in a new medium quite distinct from a three-act play.

This was not weak surrender. With their years of stage experience, the Lockharts were not neophytes; and they brought to their screen characterizations an intelligence and understanding that was a directorial delight. In two years, the two have appeared in an even twenty pictures.

They have a home in Hollywood in the quieter Loz Feliz section. There are a swimming pool and two tennis courts. Into this pool, the one-time holder of Canada’s one-mile swimming championship plunges every morning.

In the basement of their home is a fascinating spot, the Players’ Room. Here, in the evening, friends smoke and chat, quietly play billiards, or stroll around examining the framed programs of the past and the autographed photos of the great of stage, screen and radio with which the walls are lined.

The Lockharts also have a summer home at Sturgeon Lake, near Lindsay, Ontario. Since the pressure of picture-making began, they have not been back to Canada for two years.

They have found no opportunity to slacken off in Hollywood. In the evenings. Gene Lockhart continues writing radio scripts that are snapped up by the sponsors. Kathleen Lockhart played in the Hollywood stage production of “Widow in Green.” Her husband had not been long in the movie capital until he was asked to stage in the great Hollywood Bowl the colorful Persian pantomime-ballet, “Sumuran.”

Courage and insistence have brought the two rewards of fame and family revenue. They early learned that hard work, and not simply waiting for a chance to come, is the formula for success. And after years of burning the midnight bulb and wearily going to bed at dawn, w'hat do you get? “A lousy fortune and a Hollywood home with a swimming pool!” is Lockhart’s cheerful answer.

Pneumatic Railway Tires

LONDON, Midland & Scottish Railway * is trying out a new car that runs on standard steel rails and is equipped with pneumatic tires. The tires are, of course, flanged, to keep the wheels on the track. At the same time this experimental car, accommodating fifty-six passengers, has been lightened so that it weighs only sixteen tons. It is powered by a twelvecylinder gasoline engine.—Review of Reviews.