Life Sketch

Birdie Sherman Crooks, a fair daughter of the West, was born in Sherman, Texas in 1873 and raised in Denison.  With pioneer parents who homesteaded the new Texas Republic, Birdie was pigeon-holed for a life on the frontier, or so it would appear.  Father was a politician and newspaper publisher, and Mother had a beautiful singing voice, so it came as no surprise when Birdie first appeared on stage at the age of 12 in a local production of a play she wrote.  In 1889, Birdie attended Kee Mar College in Hagerstown, Maryland, a Lutheran women’s seminary with classical emphasis on the arts.  Her college days sparked a career on stage and opened the door to the Gilded Age—a world away from dusty Texas.

Birdie’s marriage to William Countiss in 1892 provided her with a badly needed stage name, and she coupled an off-spelling of Cathrine to catch the eye on the marquee.  Upon graduating from dramatic school, she made her debut on the New York stage in 1901 as a member of the Murray Hill Stock Company.  For the next six years, Cathrine Countiss acted her way across the continent in one stock company after the next until catching the eye of New York theatre manager E. D. Price.  Following a swift divorce from Countiss, Mr. and Mrs. Price joined forces to build a career of leading roles for Cathrine Countiss lasting more than a decade.  Life in the footlights was grand until a new-fangled entertainment media brought down her curtain on legitimate theatre—moving pictures.

Cathrine Countiss’ first silent movie The Idler was filmed in 1914. Three more films would soon follow, capitalizing on her leading lady recognition with theatre-goers coast-to-coast.  She took top billing in A Modern Magdalene opposite Lionel Barrymore and starred in The Gray Nun of Belgium written and produced by L. Frank Baum’s new OZ Film Manufacturing Company.  But E. D. Price managed theatre actors and would have nothing to do with hair-brained boondoggles.  Enter George Hanna, a Southern gentleman from Fort Worth, recently retired from his successful family lumber business.  George had the money and Cathrine had the connections to start a new life far from the tainted Gilded Age of New York City—Hollywood!

Cathrine Countiss Portrait
Vitals
  • Born | 16 July 1873 | Sherman, TX

  • Married | William Peter Countiss | 7 December 1892 | Denison, TX

  • Married | Edward D. Price | 30 June 1907 | Mount Vernon, NY

  • Married | George Clark Hanna | c. 1915 | Los Angeles, CA

  • Died | 27 October 1955 | Pasadena, CA

  • Buried | 31 October 1955 | Mountain View Mausoleum, Altadena, CA

Broadway Theatre
Silent Film
  • The Idler | as Lady Helen Merryweather Harding | Box Office Attraction Company (Fox Film Corporation) | 1914

  • The Avalanche (aka Barrier Between) | as Clara Benson Vaughan | Life Photo Film Corporation | 1915

  • A Modern Magdalen | as Katinka Jenkins with Lionel Barrymore as Lindsay | Life Photo Film Corporation | 1915

  • The Gray Nun of Belgium | in title role | L. Frank Baum's The Oz Film Manufacturing Company | 1915

Stock, Touring, and Vaudeville Theatre

By some accounts, Cathrine Countiss played over 300 leading roles in performances on the stage during her career.  It is difficult to validate that claim, but below are just some of those that are documented in touring, stock, and vaudeville companies across the country.  This is not an all-inclusive list but is continually evolving as more archives are uncovered.  She is however known to have played The Birthday Present in over 500 performances.

  • Arizona | Murray Hill Stock Company | Murray Hill Theatre | New York City, NY | 1901

  • Prince Otto | Murray Hill Stock Company | Murray Hill Theatre | New York City, NY | 1901

  • The Village Postmaster | Murray Hill Stock Company | Murray Hill Theatre | New York City, NY | 1901

  • The Gold Mine | as Dulcie Laraudie | Baker's Theatre | Portland, OR | 1903

  • Alabama | as Mrs. Page | Baker's Theatre | Portland, OR | 1903

  • The Christian | as Glory Quayle | Denison Opera House | Denison, TX | 1903

  • Barbara Frietchie | as Barbara Frietchie | Broadway Theatre | Brooklyn, NY | 1905

  • The Christian | as Glory Quayle | Broadway Theatre | Brooklyn, NY | 1905

  • The Christian | as Glory Quayle | Imperial Theatre | Brooklyn, NY | 1905

  • The Christian | as Glory Quayle | 40-week run | Pacific Coast Theatres | 1905

  • The Dancing Girl | unknown role | Imperial Theatre | Brooklyn, NY | 1905

  • The Old Love | as Jessie | Imperial Theatre | Brooklyn, NY | 1906

  • Wedded by Wire | unknown role | Imperial Theatre | Brooklyn, NY | 1906

  • Mrs. Warren's Profession | Montauk Theatre | Brooklyn, NY | 1907

  • Companions in Crime | Brighton Beach Music Hall | Brooklyn, NY | 1907

  • Under Two Flags | as Cigarette | Albaugh's Lyceum Theatre | Baltimore, MD | 1907

  • The Road to Yesterday | as Elspeth Tyrell/Lady Elizabeth Tyrell | Tabor Grand Opera House | Denver, CO | 1908

  • Graustark | as Princess Yetive | Tabor Grand Opera House | Denver, CO | 1908

  • In the Bishop's Carriage | as Nance Olden | Tabor Grand Opera House | Denver, CO | 1908

  • At Yale | as Dorothy Randal | Tabor Grand Opera House | Denver, CO | 1908

  • Prince Karl | as Mrs. Florence Arhmien Lowell | Tabor Grand Opera House | Denver, CO | 1908

  • Mrs. Dane's Defense | as Mrs. Dane | Tabor Grand Opera House | Denver, CO | 1908

  • Barbara Frietchie | as Barbara Frietchie | Tabor Grand Opera House | Denver, CO | 1908

  • Charley's Aunt | as Kitty Verdun | Tabor Grand Opera House | Denver, CO | 1908

  • Brown of Harvard | as Evelyn Kenyon | Broadway Theatre | Denver, CO | 1908

  • His House in Order | as Nina | Broadway Theatre | Denver, CO | 1908

  • The Three of Us | as Rhy Macchesney | Broadway Theatre | Denver, CO | 1908

  • Strongheart | as Dorothy Nelson | Broadway Theatre | Denver, CO | 1908

  • Clarice | as Clarice Marland | Broadway Theatre | Denver, CO | 1908

  • The Third Degree | as Mrs. Howard Jeffries, Sr. | Moore Theatre | Seattle, WA | 1909

  • The Watcher | as Felice Kent | Auditorium Theatre | Baltimore, MD | 1909

  • The Awakening of Helen Richie | as Helen Richie | Majestic Theatre | Brooklyn, NY | 1910

  • The White Sister | as Sister Giovanni | Lyric Theatre | Buffalo, NY | 1911

  • The White Sister | as Sister Giovanni | Lyceum Theatre | Cleveland, OH | 1911

  • The White Sister | as Sister Giovanni | Lyceum Theatre | Detroit, MI | 1912

  • The White Sister | as Sister Giovanni | Brandeis Theatre | Omaha, NE | 1912

  • Merely Mary Ann | as Mary Ann | Heilig Theatre | Portland, OR | 1912

  • The Awakening of Helen Richie | as Helen Richie | Heilig Theatre | Portland, OR | 1912

  • The Girl with Green Eyes | unknown role | Heilig Theatre | Portland, OR | 1912

  • The Thief | unknown role | Heilig Theatre | Portland, OR | 1912

  • The Gamblers | as Isabel Emerson | Colonial Theatre | Salt Lake City, UT | 1912

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Keith's Union Square Theatre | New York City, NY | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Maryland Theatre | Baltimore, MD | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Columbia Theatre | St. Louis, MO | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Majestic Theatre | Chicago, IL | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Majestic Theatre | Milwaukee, WI | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Columbia Theatre | Grand Rapids, MI | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Brighton Beach Music Hall | Brooklyn, NY | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Shea's Vaudeville House | Buffalo, NY | Tour Stop 1 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Shea's Victoria Theatre | Toronto, ON, Canada | Tour Stop 2 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Memphis, TN | Tour Stop 3 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | New Orleans, LA | Tour Stop 4 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Kansas City, KS | Tour Stop 5 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Denver, CO | Tour Stop 6 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Lincoln, NE | Tour Stop 7 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Omaha, NE | Tour Stop 8 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Sioux City, IA | Tour Stop 9 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Des Moines, IA | Tour Stop 10 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Winnipeg, MB, Canada | Tour Stop 11 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Regina Theatre | Regina, SK, Canada | Tour Stop 12 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Sherman Grand Theatre | Calgary, AB, Canada | Tour Stop 13 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Empire Theatre | Edmonton, AB, Canada | Tour Stop 14 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Empire Theatre | Spokane, WA | Tour Stop 15 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Seattle, WA | Tour Stop 16 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Portland, OR | Tour Stop 17 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | San Francisco, CA | Tour Stop 18 | 1913

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Oakland, CA | Tour Stop 19 | 1914

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Los Angeles, CA | Tour Stop 20 | 1914

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Salt Lake City, UT | Tour Stop 21 | 1914

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | Minneapolis, MN | Tour Stop 22 | 1914

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Orpheum Theatre | St. Paul, MN | Tour Stop 23 | 1914

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Palace Music Hall | Chicago, IL | Tour Stop 24 | 1914

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Palace Theatre | New York City, NY | Tour Stop 25 | 1914

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Maryland Theatre | Baltimore, MD | 1914

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Majestic Theatre | Ft. Worth, TX | 1914

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Majestic Theatre | Dallas, TX | 1914

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Majestic Theatre | Houston, TX | 1914

  • The Birthday Present | as Gwendolyn | Majestic Theatre | San Antonio | 1914

  • His House in Order | as Nina | Denham Theatre | Denver, CO | 1914

  • When We Were Twenty-one | as Phyllis Erickson | Denham Theatre | Denver, CO | 1914

  • Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch | as Mrs. Wiggs | Denham Theatre | Denver, CO | 1914

 
Biblography & Resources

Additional online resources documenting Cathrine Countiss' life and career on the stage and in film can be found below in no particular order: