Kathryn Adams, Actress in 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' and Hitchcock's 'Saboteur,' Dies at 96

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Kathryn Adams

She once was married to Hugh Beaumont, who played the dad Ward Cleaver on 'Leave It to Beaver.'

Kathryn Adams, an actress who appeared in the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur, has died. She was 96.

Adams, who was married to Leave It to Beaver dad Hugh Beaumont for more than 30 years, died Oct. 14 in an assisted living facility in Mankato, Minn., her daughter Kristan Beaumont told The Hollywood Reporter.

Born on July 15, 1920, in New Ulm, Minn., Adams appeared on a "Gateway to Hollywood" radio program in which winners would receive a contract with RKO Radio. That led to an appearance opposite Ginger Rogers in the Warner Bros. film Fifth Avenue Girl (1939).

Also that year, the attractive brunette was set to play Esmeralda in RKO's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but star Charles Laughton insisted on having Maureen O’Hara play the part. So Adams portrayed a companion of Fleur-de-Lys (Helene Reynolds) in the film.

In Hitchcock's classic Saboteur (1942), she appeared as Mrs. Brown, a young mother and the daughter of Otto Kruger's not as-respectable-as-he-seems Charles Tobin.

Adams also was a contract player at Universal, and her film résumé included If I Had My Way (1940) with Bing Crosby, Love, Honor and Oh-Baby! (1940), Black Diamonds (1940), The Invisible Woman (1940), Sky Raiders (1941), Unfinished Business (1941) and Rawhide Rangers (1941), in which she sang and played the piano.

Adams married Beaumont in 1941, and they received top billing in the 1946 film Blonde for a Day, her final onscreen credit. That movie starred Beaumont in the third of five films in which he played famed San Francisco detective Michael Shayne.

One of television's most famous fathers, Beaumont portrayed the patient Ward Cleaver for six seasons on CBS-ABC's Leave It to Beaver, which aired from 1957-63. He and Adams divorced in 1974, and he died in 1982 at age 72.

Adams left acting to raise a family and eventually became a teacher of sixth graders in Hollywood, a psychologist and an author (her first novel was published after she turned 70).

"Hugh didn't ask me to quit, I just quit to raise my children," she once said. "It was a different world. Acting wasn't something I longed for — it just happened."

In 1975, she married Dr. Fred Doty; he died in 2010.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include sons Hunter and Mark, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

 

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