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Cornell, Katharine, (1893-1974) and Guthrie McClintic (1893-1961)  
 
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Cornell worked almost exclusively with McClintic after their initial success together. Throughout his career, however, McClintic continued to direct plays in which Cornell did not appear. Among his greatest successes without Cornell were Maxwell Anderson's Winterset (1935) and High Tor (1937), a revival of Hamlet starring John Gielgud (1936), and a stage version of Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome (1936).

McClintic's directorial style was distinguished by a strong visual component, evident in sets, costumes, lighting, and stage composition. He was also known for his ability to elicit outstanding performances from stars and supporting players alike.

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Cornell and McClintic were markedly dissimilar in personality and style of living, and they designed their living arrangements to accommodate these disparities. Offstage, Cornell was, like Greta Garbo (to whom she was often compared), reserved, self-effacing, and somewhat aloof. Over the years, she carried on a handful of long-term romances with women. In contrast, McClintic was nervous, hot-tempered, sociable, gossipy, and sexually promiscuous.

Early in their marriage, the couple rented (and later purchased) a large house at 23 Beekman Place in Manhattan, which they furnished with pieces used in their productions. By mutual agreement, the third floor of the residence was her exclusive domain, the fourth floor was his, while the floors below were open to both.

Their careers faltered after World War II, though McClintic and Cornell continued to enjoy some notable successes, as in their productions of Antony and Cleopatra (1947), which attained a long-run record for that play, and The Constant Wife (1951).

Cornell, who had long suffered from stage fright, retired shortly after McClintic's death, which occurred on October 29, 1961. Her last role was that of Mrs. Patrick Campbell in Dear Liar (1960), Jerome Kilty's dramatization of the Shaw-Campbell correspondence.

In later years, Cornell sold the Beekman Place house and, though she kept an apartment in New York, spent much of her time at her home in Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard Island, Massachusetts.

Until her death on June 9, 1974, Cornell's neighbor and closest companion was Nancy Hamilton (1904-1985), a sketch writer and lyricist for several Broadway revues, who served as assistant manager and understudy when Cornell toured the European Theater of Operations in a revival of The Barretts of Wimpole Street during 1944-1945.

Charles Krinsky

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    Bibliography
   

Cornell, Katharine, as told to Ruth Woodbury Sedgwick. I Wanted to Be an Actress: The Autobiography of Katharine Cornell. New York: Random House, 1939.

Ferris, Lesley, "Kit and Guth: A Lavender Marriage on Broadway." Passing Performances: Queer Readings of Leading Players in American Theater History. Robert A. Schanke and Kim Marra, eds. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998. 197-220.

Hawsen, Robert H. "Cornell, Katharine." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Anne Commire, ed. Detroit: Yorkin Publications, 1999. 4:136-143

McClintic, Guthrie. Me and Kit. Boston: Little, Brown, 1955.

Mosel, Tad, with Gertrude Macy. Leading Lady: The World and Theatre of Katharine Cornell. Foreword by Martha Graham. Boston: Little, Brown, 1978.

Thompson, Gerald. "McClintic, Guthrie." Dictionary of American Biography. Supplement Seven: 1961-1965. John A. Garraty, ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1981. 495-496.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Krinsky, Charles  
    Entry Title: Cornell, Katharine, and Guthrie McClintic  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated May 18, 2004  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/cornell_mcclintic.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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