Gladys Swarthout

Gladys Swarthout
Paramount Pictures

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Gladys Swarthout
Music: South side of the 6200 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Actress | Opera Singer | Radio Personality
Born Dec. 25, 1904 in Deepwater, Mo.
Died July 8, 1969 in Florence, Italy

Gladys Swarthout was a mezzo soprano singer and actress who became one of the Metropolitan Opera's most glamorous stars.

Swarthout was born Dec. 25, 1904, in Deepwater, Mo., and joined her church choir at 13. After graduating from high school, she enrolled at the Bush Conservatory of Music in Chicago, where she studied for three years.

The Chicago Civic Opera Company hired her in 1924, and she went to the Met in 1929.

She performed as Cathos in the American premiere of "Le Preziose Ridicole" and also appeared in "Lakme," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Norma."

She played Carmen in 1950 in the first opera ever staged for television production.

Her movies included "Ambush" (1939), in which she did not sing; "Champagne Waltz" (1937); "Give Us This Night" (1936); and "Romance in the Dark" (1938).

When a film called for her to be hit in the face by a tomato, Swarthout said, "I felt that if it was necessary to throw tomatoes at me in order to have the American public listen to good music, then let them throw."

Swarthout retired from the Met in 1945 but went on singing until a heart ailment forced her to stop. An operation in 1957 enabled her to resume singing.

She was married to Frank Chapman, a fellow Met singer.

Her first radio broadcast was for General Motors in 1930, and thereafter she appeared regularly on such shows as Ford Symphony, the Prudential Family Hour and Camel Caravan.

She died at her villa in Florence, Italy, on July 8, 1969, at age 64.

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