Actors of Cedar Hill

Robert Ames

Robert Ames was a stage and silent screen actor who made the transition to talking motion pictures.

Early Years 

Born and raised in Hartford, Ames graduated from Henry Barnard School and Hartford Public High School. He began his theatrical career at Parsons in Hartford where he sold tickets at the box office. He later joined stock companies including Hunter-Bradford Players and the Municipal Players of Northampton.

New York Stage

During his New York stage career, Ames performed in various shows such as Come Out of the Kitchen (1916) and Seed of the Brute (1926). It is said famed director/producer Cecil B. DeMille liked his acting and gave him his first chance in silent motion pictures.

Silent Films

Ames made his silent screen debut in What Women Want (1920). He later starred in films such as Nice People (1921) and Icebound (1923).

The Talkies

When sound was added to movies, he co-starred with Gloria Swanson in The Trespasser (1929), Edward G. Robinson in A Lady to Love (1930), and Mary Astor in Behind Office Doors (1931). In all, Ames was in more than 15 films.

Personal Life

Ames led a turbulent personal life that involved four marriages, four divorces, and excessive drinking. He was married to Alice Gerry, Frances Goodrich, Vivienne Segal, and Muriel Oakes.

Lawsuit

In 1927, Helene Lambert, a cabaret entertainer, sued Ames for $200,000 for breach of promise. Lambert claimed that he had promised to marry her after his divorce from his third wife was final. Instead, he eloped with New York society girl, Muriel Oakes.

Tragic Death

Ames died at the age of 42 in the Delmonico Hotel in New York City. His death was ruled as being from delirium tremens caused by alcohol withdrawal.

Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn was born and raised in Hartford and West Hartford. She was the daughter of Katharine Houghton, an active supporter of women's rights, and Thomas Hepburn, Connecticut’s first urologist.

The second of six children, Hepburn was bright, independent, and an excellent athlete. She became interested in theater at an early age. At age 8, she dramatized Uncle Tom's Cabin in the tiny theater her father had built for her.

In 1924, Hepburn followed in her mother’s footsteps and attended Bryn Mawr College. After graduation, she followed her dream of becoming an actress. She began her career in the theater, first in Baltimore and then New York.

Hollywood

After the theatrical success of The Warrior’s Husband (1932), RKO pictures invited her to Hollywood. Her first film A Bill of Divorcement debuted on September 30, 1932. In 1933 she won her first Academy Award for Morning Glory. That year she also starred in Little Women, which was a huge hit.

Hepburn’s reputation for haughty behavior off-screen led to criticism. Her refusal to play the “Hollywood Game” – wearing slacks, not wearing makeup, not posing for pictures, and not giving interviews – resulted in several flops. In 1938, Bringing Up Baby and Holiday, both with Cary Grant, slightly redeemed her, but not enough to keep her from being dubbed box-office poison.

The Philadelphia Story

Hepburn revived her career by going back to the theater. In 1938, she starred in The Philadelphia Story on Broadway, receiving critical acclaim. She obtained the film rights to the play with the financial assistance of Howard Hughes. She then sold the rights to MGM with the conditions that she star in the film and retain decision making power. It was a box office hit.

Hepburn & Tracy

Hepburn’s next film was Woman of the Year in 1942. Paired with Spencer Tracy, the movie sparked their life-long affair. They starred together in nine films and sustained a relationship that lasted 25 years. Their final collaboration was Guess Who’s Coming Dinner which was also Tracy’s last film.

Academy Award Winner

Hepburn’s career spanned five decades. She holds the record for most Best Actress Oscar wins with four. In addition to Morning Glory (1933), she won for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), a The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981).

Hepburn died at the age of 96 at her home in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Nicholas Hudson Holt

Born in Hartford, Nicholas Hudson Holt graduated from South Kent School and Middlebury College. He began divinity studies at Virginia Theological Seminary and finished at Berkeley Divinity School in New Haven.

Episcopal Minister

Ordained as an Episcopal Minister in 1959, his first assignment was as a curate at St. Andrews Church in Meriden. He later served in New York City and Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 1968 he moved to Chicago where he was the assistant at St. Edmund’s Church.

Acting Career

In 1972, he moved to Los Angeles and began acting under the name Nick Holt. He performed on stage, and had several minor television roles. He appeared in the TV movie Invasion from Inner Earth in 1974, and appeared in single episodes of Battlestar Galactica, Barney Miller, Starsky and Hutch, and The Next Step Beyond.

He died in LA on October 6, 1979 from injuries sustained in an accident.

Jay Ray (MacLeod)

Born in Denver, Jay Ray MacLeod was the son of actors. Taking the stage name Jay Ray, he performed on Broadway. He became a stage manager of stock companies, working throughout New England. As a stage manager of Hartford’s Poli Players, he frequently appeared in various productions, often as a butler. He served as director for Hartford Players, Mark Twain Masquers, and Aetna Players. He also performed in numerous dramatic radio broadcasts.

Fannie K. Ray / Lillian Brice

Born in Oklahoma, Fannie Kershaw Ray began her acting career at age 14. As Lillian Brice, she performed on stage throughout the eastern seaboard and Midwest. She settled in Hartford in the 1930s, performing for several seasons with the Poli Players and other stock companies at the Palace Theater. She was also a dramatic actress on WTIC radio. After World War II, she joined the Hartford Park Department as a playground supervisor. In 1949, she started a story-telling program in Hartford parks where she became known as the “story lady.” She was married to J. M. Ray, stage manager and director at Hartford’s Palace Theater.

Herbert Saunders

Upon graduating from Hartford High (1875), Herbert Saunders entered the family merchant tailoring business. He was admitted into partnership in 1881 and became president and treasurer in 1912. When the business closed in 1918, Saunders, age 60, pursued his interest in theater. Locally, he studied elocution, sang in a chorus, and performed in a few plays. His friendship with Winchell Smith and Charles B. Dillingham, Hartford natives who were New York theater producers, led to new opportunities. Saunders spent two months in the publicity department of the Hippodrome, a theater managed by Dillingham. He then worked at Smith & Golden, reading manuscripts. He also worked as an assistant stage manager and an understudy. In 1919, Saunders took a character part in Three Wise Fools, which he played for two seasons on the road. This led to other parts in Smith productions. Saunders died in 1931 at age 73.

Louise Stubbs (Williams)

Louise Stubbs was born in Chicago where she received her early theatrical training. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Goodman Theatre before moving to New York in 1952. During her career, she appeared in over 50 plays, television shows, and commercials.

New York Theater

Stubbs was one of a group of Black actors including Ossie Davies, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte, and Sidney Poitier who found it increasingly possible to work in theater in the 1950s.

In the 1960s, she was part of the cast of the American production of Jean Genet’s controversial play The Blacks. This play featured a new generation of Black performers including James Earl Jones, Maya Angelou, Louis Gossett, Jr., and Cicely Tyson.

Television & Film

In 1965 and 1966, Stubbs was one of the few Black actors to be seen regularly on American television, playing the role of Carol on the soap opera Guiding Light.

In 1971, she was cast in the role of Mama Rosie in the off-Broadway stage production of Black Girl. The movie version followed a year later.

In 1988-1991 and 1994, she played Minnie Madden on the soap opera Loving.

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Public Access to Burial Listings

Robert Ames – Section 21, Lot 105
Fern Andra - Section 14, Lot 10
Nicholas Hudson Holt - Section 4, Lot 71
Katharine Hepburn - Section 10, Lot 132
Fannie K. Ray / Lillian Brice - Section 19, SI 337
Jay Ray (MacLeod) - Section 19, SI 337
Louise Stubbs (Williams) - Section 34, SI 85
Herbert Saunders - Section 5, Lot 63

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