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Encyclopedia > Kitty Carlisle
Kitty Carlisle in Die Fledermaus, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1933

Kitty Carlisle Hart (b. 3 September 1910) is a United States singer, actress, and spokeswoman for the arts. She is probably best known from being a regular panelist on the television game show To Tell the Truth under her stage name Kitty Carlisle.

She was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and named Catherine Conn (the surname was pronounced Cohen); her family was of German Jewish heritage. Her father, Dr. Joseph Conn, was a gynecologist who died when she was ten. Her mother was Hortense Holtzman, a daughter of the first Jewish mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, and a woman notoriously obsessed with breaking into Gentile society. (As Hortense Conn once said to a taxi driver who asked if her daughter was Jewish, "She may be, but I'm not.") Taken to Europe in 1921 -- Hortense Conn hoped to marry her daughter off to European royalty, believing them more amenable to a Jewish bride, and only ended up flitting around Europe and living in what her daughter recalled as "the worst room of the best hotel" -- she was educated in New Orleans and Switzerland (Ecole Mont Choisi in Lausanne), then at the Sorbonne and the London School of Economics. She studied acting in London at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

After returning to New York in 1932 with her mother, she got her acting start in America at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania. She appeared, billed as Kitty Carlisle, on Broadway in several operettas and musical comedies, and in the American premiere of Benjamin Britten's The Rape of Lucretia. For a brief moment, she considered taking the stage name Kitty Vere de Vere.

Her early movies included a role in the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera and two films with Bing Crosby.

She became a household name through To Tell the Truth, where she was a regular panelist for some 20 years, appearing on each version from 1956 to 2002.

She married playwright Moss Hart on 10 August 1946. He died 21 December 1961. They had two children.

Known for her gracious manners and personal elegance, late in life she became prominent in social circle of New York City as she crusaded for financial support of the arts. She was appointed to various state-wide councils, and was chairman of the New York State Council of the Arts for 20 years. She also served on the boards of various New York City cultural institutions.

She resumed her acting late in life, appearing in Woody Allen's Radio Days and in Six Degrees of Separation, as well as on stage in a revival of On Your Toes.




  • Murder at the Vanities - 1934
  • She Loves Me Not - 1934 (with Bing Crosby)
  • Here Is My Heart - 1934 (with Bing Crosby)
  • A Night at the Opera - 1935 (with the Marx Brothers)
  • Larceny with Music - 1943
  • Radio Days - 1987
  • Six Degrees of Separation - 1993


Cultural activities

  • vice chairman of the New York State Council of the Arts 1971-1976
  • chairman of the New York State Council of the Arts - 1976 - abt 1996
  • chairman emeritus of the New York State Council of the Arts
  • board member of Empire State College
  • Honorary trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Honorary trustee of the Museum of Modern Art
  • board member of the Center for Arts Education
  • chairman of the New York Statewide Conference of Women
  • special consultant to Governor Nelson Rockefeller on Women's Opportunities.


  • Kitty: An Autobiography

  Results from FactBites:
People's Century | Great Escape | Kitty Carlisle Hart (849 words)
Kitty Carlisle Hart: So in those days, they were scooping up any young person who could sing and look decent, ah, at the same time.
Kitty Carlisle Hart: There were a lot of movies about the war.
Kitty Carlisle Hart: Yes, well I think I answer the question by saying that I was enormously flattered that anybody wanted me in the movies.
  More results at FactBites »



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