Catherine Chisholm Cushing

Catherine Chisholm Cushing (April 15, 1874 — October 19, 1952) was an American writer of songs, librettos, and plays, best known for her 1916 stage adaptation of Eleanor H. Porter's Pollyanna.

Early life

Catherine Chisholm was born in Mount Perry, Ohio.[1] She attended the Pennsylvania College for Women in Pittsburgh.[2]


Cushing started her literary career as an editor at Harper's Bazaar,[2] before finding success as a writer on Broadway. Her first show, The Real Thing (1911),[3] was a comedy that ran for sixty performances and starred Henrietta Crosman and Minnie Dupree.[4] This was followed by her Widow by Proxy (1913) with May Irwin,[5] Kitty MacKay (1914),[6][7] Sari (1914, book by Cushing and Eugene Percy Heath),[8] Jerry (1914) starring Billie Burke,[9][10] Pollyanna (1916, based on the book by Eleanor H. Porter),[11][12] Glorianna (1918-1919, a musical based on Cushing's own Widow by Proxy), Lassie (1920, a musical version of Kitty MacKay), Marjolaine (1922), Topsy and Eva (1924-1925, a burlesque based loosely on Uncle Tom's Cabin),[13] Edgar Allan Poe (1925),[14] and The Master of the Inn (1925-1926, based on a book by Robert Herrick).[15]

Film adaptations of plays or stories by Cushing include Kitty MacKay (1917), Widow by Proxy (1919) starring Marguerite Clark,[16] Pollyanna (1920) starring Mary Pickford, Don't Call Me Little Girl (1921) starring Mary Miles Minter, Topsy and Eva (1927) starring Rosetta Duncan and Vivian Duncan, and The Prince and the Pauper (1937, based on the book by Mark Twain). Songs by Cushing included "L'amour, toujours, l'amour" (1922, music by Rudolf Friml),[17] which was on several film soundtracks, and ""Love's Own Sweet Song (Sari Waltz)" (1947).

Her Topsy and Eva was among the first American musicals adapted for early television; a one-hour version aired in July 1939. "Possibly because the program was so racist, history has chosen to forget this broadcast," commented one historian of television.[18]

Personal life

Catherine Chisholm married Henry Howard Cushing in 1904. She was widowed in 1937 and died in New York in 1952, aged 78 years.[19]


  1. James Fisher, Felicia Hardison Londré, eds., Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Modernism (Rowman & Littlefield 2017): 169. ISBN 9781538107867
  2. "Mrs. C. C. Cushing, Author of Plays" New York Times (October 21, 1952): 29. via ProQuest
  3. "Miss Crosman in Amateurish Play" New York Times (August 11, 1911): 9. via ProQuest
  4. Dixie Hines, Harry Prescott Hanaford, Who's who in Music and Drama (H. P. Hanaford 1914): 408.
  5. "May Irwin Shines in 'Widow by Proxy'" New York Times (February 25, 1913): 11. via ProQuest
  6. Catherine Chisholm Cushing, Kitty MacKay: A Scotch Comedy in Three Acts (S. French 1914).
  7. "Laughter and Tears for 'Kitty MacKay'" New York Times (January 8, 1914): 11. via ProQuest
  8. "Sari" Green Book Magazine (April 1914): 606.
  9. Catherine Chisholm Cushing, Jerry: A Comedy in Three Acts (S. French 1930).
  10. "Jerry" Green Book Magazine (June 1914): 1017.
  11. Catherine Chisholm Cushing, Pollyanna, the Glad Girl (Klaw and Erlanger 1915).
  12. "The Glad Play Still" Book News Monthly (March 1916): 327.
  13. "The Duncan Sisters in 'Topsy and Eva'" at "Uncle Tom's Cabin & American Culture", an online exhibit by Stephen Railton at University of Virginia.
  14. "The Play: Poe on Stage" New York Times (October 6, 1925): 31. via ProQuest
  15. "'Master of the Inn' Laden with Romance" New York Times (December 23, 1925): 22. via ProQuest
  16. T. A. Phelps, "How it Feels to be a Widow" Theatre Magazine (August 1919): 112.
  17. Catherine Chisholm Cushing and Rudolf Friml, "L'amour, toujours, l'amour" (Harms 1922), Sheet Music Collection, Music Library and Bill Schurk Sound Archives, University Libraries, Bowling Green State University.
  18. Sandy Thornburn, "Unifying the Audience: An Overview of Television Musicals" in Graeme Harper, Ruth Doughty, Jochen Eisentraut, eds., Sound and Music in Film and Visual Media: A Critical Overview (Bloomsbury 2014). ISBN 9781501305443
  19. "Mrs. Catherine Cushing, Playwright, Lyricist Dies" Los Angeles Times (October 21, 1952): 18. via
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