~Kathleen Key~

Born: April 1, 1903 in Buffalo, New York, USA
Died:
December 22, 1954 (age 51) in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
~Filmography~
One Rainy Afternoon (1936) ... Bit Role (uncredited)
Klondike Annie (1936) ... Dance Hall Girl (uncredited)
Thunder in the Night (1935) ... Party Guest (uncredited)
Sweeping Against the Winds (1930)

The Phantom of the North (1929) ... Colette
The Family Picnic (Short) (1928) ... The Wife
Golf Widows (1928) ... Ethel Dixon
Irish Hearts (1927) ... Clarice
Hey! Hey! Cowboy (1927) ... Emily Decker
The Desert's Toll (1926) ... Muriel Cooper
College Days (1926) ... Louise
Money Talks (1926) ... Vamp
The Flaming Frontier (1926) ... Lucretia
Under Western Skies (1926) ... Milly Lewis
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1926) ... Tirzah
The Big Parade (1925) ... Miss Apperson (uncredited)
A Lover's Oath (1925) ... Sherin
Revelation (1924) ... Madonna
The Sea Hawk (1924) ... Andalusian Slave Girl
The Trouble Shooter (1924) ... Nancy Brewster
The Man from Brodney's (1924) ... Neenah
Reno (1924) ... Yvette, the governess
North of Hudson Bay (1923) ... Estelle McDonald
The Rendezvous (1923) ... Varvara
Hell's Hole (1923) ... Mabel Grant
The Beautiful and Damned (1923) ... Rachel
Bells of San Juan (1922) ... Florrie Engel
West of Chicago (1922) ... Señoria Gonzales
Where's My Wandering Boy Tonight? (1922) ... Veronica Tyler
The Fighting Breed (1921) ... Enid MacDonald (as Ethel Payton)
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) ... Georgette (uncredited)
The Rookie's Return (1921) ... Gloria
The Jackeroo of Coolabong (1920) ... Edith MacDonald
~Biography~
A distant relative, her publicity insisted, of Francis Scott Key, dark-haired, exotic-looking Kathleen Key
(née Lanahan) memorably played Tirzah to Ramon Novarro's Ben-Hur in the gigantic 1925 MGM
production. Having made her screen debut in, of all places, Australia, Key was picked by
writer/producer/director Ferdiand Pinney Earle to play opposite a very young Novarro in a reportedly
dazzling and imaginative screen adaptation of The Rubaiat of Omar Khayyam, which sat on a shelf for
four years before enjoying a brief release in 1925 due to Novarro's newfound celebrity. (Sadly, the
potentially interesting film, re-titled A Lover's Oath, apparently no longer exists.) Key was voted a 1923
Wampas Baby Star and went on to grace such popular films as the still extant The Sea Hawk and
Revelation (both 1924), appearing as the Madonna in the latter. Ben-Hur should have made her a major
star, but a highly public battle with comedian Buster Keaton -- he claimed she vandalized his dressing
room after being refused a monetary loan -- virtually blacklisted her. Key played very minor roles in a
couple of sound films, including a dance hall girl in Mae West's Klondike Annie (1936), but proved unable
to pay a fine due to destitution when arrested for drunk driving in 1941. The former Wampas Baby spent
her final years at the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, CA.

Biography by Hans J. Wollstein, AllMovie.com
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