Family & Companions
Inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2000
Although she practically made a career in middle age as one of the ever-curious panelists on the primetime, daytime and syndicated versions of the game show "To Tell the Truth" during the 1950s, 60s, 70s and even a brief 1990 revamp, Kitty Carlisle actually enjoyed a successful stage career before and during her question-posing days. She also made a brief try at film stardom in the 30s, and performed very occasionally in movies and TV over the decades. In recent years, though, Carlisle has done her most important work at charity events and in arts administration, serving as chair of the New York State Council of the Arts for 20 years.
Privately educated at schools in Lausanne, London, Paris and Rome, the New Orleans-born Carlisle later studied for the theater at RADA and at Paris' Theatre de l'Atelier. A tall brunette with an opera-trained voice, she made her stage debut in a touring company of "Rio Rita" and debuted on Broadway in "Champagne Sec" in 1933. The movie musical, which had been dormant for several years after the early sound explosion, was reviving, and Carlisle was put under contract by Paramount. She debuted in the enjoyably odd backstage mystery musical "Murder at the Vanities" (1934), and that same year was in two fun Bing Crosby vehicles, "Here Is My Heart" (as a princess) and "She Loves Me Not" (playing second lead behind Miriam Hopkins). Carlisle looked classy and sang well, but her roles were fairly standardized leading lady types, and in general her male co-stars and the zany comic supporting players won all the kudos. This was especially the case in her last film for eight years, "A Night at the Opera" (1935), while Carlisle and Allan Jones provided the romance and the songs, the Marx Brothers anarchically satirized any bourgeois convention in sight.
Carlisle returned to the New York stage, mostly in such operettas as "Three Waltzes" (1937) and the occasional straight comedy. She made a guest cameo in the all-star film revue "Hollywood Canteen" (1944) and starred opposite Jones in a routine "B" movie "Larceny with Music" (1943), but here the King Sisters snapped up most of the best songs, so it was back to the stage. She continued until the late 40s until she had two children by playwright Moss Hart, whom she had married in 1946, but became busier again in the 50s. Over the years Carlisle has performed on Broadway in "The Rape of Lucretia" (1948) and "The Anniversary Waltz" (1954) and on summer tours of "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (1949), "Die Fledermaus" (with the Metropolitan Opera, 1967) and "You Never Know" (1975), among others.
"To Tell the Truth" provided steady, fun work and income as she raised her children after Hart's death in 1961. Over the years, the ever-gracious Carlisle has regularly appeared in the society column of THE NEW YORK TIMES at high-profile charity fundraisers; played a radio singer in Woody Allen's nostalgic "Radio Days" (1987) and a supporting role in the TV-movie "Flowers for Matty" (1990), and appeared as host, guest or interviewee on TV specials including "An Evening with Alan Jay Lerner" and "Bill Cosby Salutes Alvin Ailey" (both 1989). Most importantly, after her appointment by Governor Hugh Carey in 1976, the New York-loving Carlisle also devoted herself tirelessly to promoting the arts in all their variety until she resigned in 1996.
Cast (Feature Film)
Film Production - Main (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Stage career began when she toured with a company of the hit Broadway operetta, "Rio Rita"
Broadway debut, "Champagne Sec"
Performed in best-known feature film, "A Night at the Opera", a Marx Brothers vehicle in which she was teamed opposite Allan Jones; was her last feature film appearance for eight years
Returned to the New York stage in "White Horse Inn" and "Three Waltzes"
Toured with a summer stage company of "A Successful Calamity"; also performed on tour with "Tonight or Never", which she repeated in 1946
Returned to features in "Larceny with Music", in which she was again teamed with Jones
Last feature film appearance in over 40 years, the all-star wartime fundraising variety revue, "Hollywood Canteen"
Last NYC stage appearance for a number of years, "The Rape of Lucretia", as Lucretia; thereafter took time off from her career to have and raise her children by Moss Hart
Was a panelist on the short-lived ABC game show, "What's Going On?"
Returned to Broadway in "The Anniversary Waltz"
Played Katherine in a revival of the Cole Porter musical "Kiss Me, Kate" staged at the New York City Center
Performed with a NY Metropolitan Opera tour of "Die Fledermaus"
Performed with the Metropolitan Opera's series of operas in Central Park, NYC
Appointed chair of New York State's Council on the Arts by Governor Hugh Carey
Hosted the PBS concert special, "An Evening with Placido Domingo"
Returned to features with a brief role as a radio singer in Woody Allen's "Radio Days"
Acted in the TV-movie, "Flowers for Matty"
Again returned to features with a supporting role in "Six Degrees of Separation"
Left position as chair of the New York State Council on the Arts in January
Inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2000