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Kathlene Martyn


A British beauty who became the mascot of the Royal Flying Corps during World War I, Kathlene Martyn emigrated to the United States in 1919. Martyn was generally acknowledged by theater critics and artists to be one of the most beautiful women gracing the stage in 1920s New York. The etcher Paul Helieau was so struck by her beauty in the 1920 Midnight Frolic that he published an image which created a national sensation. Advertising agencies hired her as a model. Her picture appeared in the newspapers and magazines regularly from 1920 to 1926.

It was Martyn's reputation as an amiable and fashionable performer with a solid ability as a partner dancer that won her a place touring vaudeville on the Orpheum circuit when not gracing the Broadway Revues. And she always had a role in any revue or musical that didn't require virtuosic singing, good timing in the delivery of dialogue, or complicated solo choreography. She graced some notable productions: "Sally," "Lady be Good," and Ziegfeld's "Palm Beach Days."

Her beauty won her parts in motion pictures as well. Beginning with 1924's "The Sixth Commandment," she appeared in four feature films, always in a supporting role, and always as a beauty who comes to a bad end. Little wonder Martyn tired of film work in 1926 after two years in the business. David S. Shields/ALS