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Theatrical Favorite Is a Keen Motorist

The new century brought with it a thrilling invention that captured the adventurous spirit of America, and Cathrine Countiss fully embraced the automobile. At a time when women were becoming more assertive through the Suffrage Movement, she saw the motorcar as a sensational statement of independence. Cathrine never missed the opportunity to take a spin or pose for a photograph on the running board or behind the wheel of a Staver Six in Auto Review.

Husband and theatrical manager E. D. Price seized on the new-fangled horseless carriage as the perfect vehicle to boost ticket sales. In 1908, to promote Graustark playing at Denver’s Tabor Grand Opera House, Price not only had Cathrine drive an automobile on stage in the final act, he parked one in a department store window with a placard advertising the play. A few weeks later, the play In the Bishop’s Carriage starred Cathrine Countiss aside none other than another automobile.

Five years later, during a two-month vacation in Denver, Cathrine spent her days tooling about town in a car she dubbed “Little Kittie.” The Toledo Blade newspaper told of her motoring escapades in a colorful piece claiming “All traffic regulations are suspended at Little Kittie’s approach.” Cathrine must have been a terror behind the wheel, because the article goes on to weave a yarn of the car taking “a notion to ram the United States Mint and knock a hole in the burglar-proof vault containing more than $7,000,000 in newly coined gold pieces.”

In December 1913, the local Hubmobile dealer in Portland, Oregon loaned Cathrine his newest touring car to use during her run of The Birthday Present at the Orpheum Theater. What better way to sell spanking new Hupmobiles than to have a famous actress seen about town in one at Christmastime? Earlier that year The Green Book Magazine reported that Cathrine even rode a "record-breaking mile with Bob Burman, the demon motor king" and legendary Indianapolis 500 driver.


Images: Auto Review; Denver Republican; The Oregonian, Portland; New York Star; Toledo Blade

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