Katherine DeMille

Katherine DeMille (June 29, 1911 April 27, 1995) was an American actress who played 25 credited film roles from the mid-1930s to the late 1940s.

Katherine DeMille
Katherine Paula Lester

(1911-06-29)June 29, 1911
DiedApril 27, 1995(1995-04-27) (aged 83)
Other namesKatherine Lester DeMille
Katherine DeMille Quinn
Years active19301956
Anthony Quinn
(m. 1937; div. 1965)
Edward Gabriel Lester,
Cecile Bianca Bertha Colani
Cecil B. DeMille,
Constance Adams DeMille
RelativesHenry Churchill de Mille (grandfather)
Beatrice deMille (grandmother)
Richard de Mille (brother)
William C. deMille (uncle)
Agnes de Mille (cousin)

Early years

DeMille was born Katherine Paula Lester in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Her father, Edward Gabriel Lester, was a Scottish schoolteacher[1] who served as a lieutenant in the 102nd Battalion, CEF during World War I and died at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.[2] Her mother, Cecile Bianca Bertha Colani,[2] was of Italian descent and died in a Los Angeles hospital.[3]

When she was eight years old, she was found in an orphanage by Constance Adams DeMille, the wife of producer and director Cecil B. DeMille.[3] The DeMilles adopted Katherine, their third child, in 1922.[4]


DeMille gained experience on stage in 1930 "by acting as understudy for the feminine 'heavy' of the play Rebound" in San Francisco.[5] She first appeared on screen as an uncredited "Zeppelin Reveler" in Madame Satan (1930). She made thirty film appearances until retiring in 1956.

Personal life

DeMille married actor Anthony Quinn on October 2, 1937 at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills.[6] They had five children: Christopher (1939-1941), Christina (born December 1, 1941), Catalina (born November 21, 1942), Duncan (born August 4, 1945), and Valentina (born December 26, 1952).[7] Their first child, Christopher, was found drowned in the lily pond of W.C. Fields at age two.[8]

Her brother, Richard de Mille, said: "I was wild about Katherine. She was extremely lovable and beautiful, a terrific combination. Was she ill-used by Quinn? Absolutely, but not in a way that she resented. She was always in love with him. Cecil had respected Constance and always treated her fairly; I don't think Quinn treated Katherine fairly."[9]

DeMille accepted the 1953 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor on behalf of her husband, who was not present at the ceremony.[10] At the same ceremony, her father received the Academy Award for Best Picture for his film The Greatest Show on Earth.

A December 8, 1964, newspaper article says that Quinn sued DeMille for divorce in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and "listed incompatibility in the suit as grounds for divorce."[11] They were divorced on January 21, 1965.[12]

Later years and death

Around 1988, DeMille moved from Pacific Palisades to Tucson, Arizona to live with one of her daughters and grandchildren.[13] She died of Alzheimer's disease[14] in Tucson on April 27, 1995.[13] She was 83.


Year Title Role Notes
1930 Madame Satan Zeppelin Reveler Uncredited
1931 Son of India Amah - Karim's Servant Uncredited
Girls About Town Girl Uncredited
1934 Viva Villa! Rosita Morales
The Trumpet Blows Lupe the Maid
Belle of the Nineties Molly Brant
1935 All the King's Horses Fraulein Mimi
The Black Room Mashka
The Call of the Wild Marie
The Crusades Alice, Princess of France
1936 Drift Fence Molly Dunn
The Sky Parade Geraldine Croft
Romeo and Juliet Rosaline Uncredited
Ramona Margarita
Banjo on My Knee Leota Long
1937 Charlie Chan at the Olympics Yvonne Roland
The Californian Chata
Love Under Fire Rosa
Under Suspicion Mary Brookhart
1938 Blockade Cabaret Girl
1939 Trapped in the Sky Carol Rayder
In Old Caliente Rita Vargas
1940 Isle of Destiny Inda Barton
Ellery Queen, Master Detective Valerie Norris
Dark Streets of Cairo Shari Abbadi
1941 Aloma of the South Seas Kari
1947 Black Gold Sarah Eagle
Unconquered Hannah
1949 The Judge Lucille Strang
1956 Man from Del Rio Woman Uncredited, (final film role)


  1. "Item: LESTER, EDWARD GABRIEL ()". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  2. Memorials of Rugbeians who fell in the Great War, Volume 5. Rugby School. 1919.
  3. "Little Princess of Hollywood's Royal Family". The Mail. September 5, 1936. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  4. "Mary Alden "Mother" Again". The Evening News. Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. May 8, 1922. p. 14. Retrieved June 16, 2016 via Newspapers.com.
  5. "The Talkie Ticker". Southtown Economist. Illinois, Chicago. August 5, 1930. p. 2. Retrieved June 17, 2016 via Newspapers.com.
  6. "California, County Marriages, 1850-1952," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8VM-KNT : 8 December 2017), Anthony Quinn and Katherine L De Mille, 02 Oct 1937; citing Los Angeles, California, United States, county courthouses, California; FHL microfilm 2,114,153.
  7. Quinn Chronology Archived 2008-05-28 at the Wayback Machine (PDF)
  8. Robert Lewis Taylor (1967). W. C. Fields: His Follies and Fortunes. New York: New American Library. pp. 235. ISBN 0-451-50653-7.
  9. Eyman 2010, p. 485.
  10. "The 25th Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  11. "Anthony Quinn Sues for Divorce". Albuquerque Journal. New Mexico, Albuquerque. Associated Press. December 8, 1964. p. 21. Retrieved June 16, 2016 via Newspapers.com.
  12. Marill, Alvin H. (1975). The Films of Anthony Quinn. Citadel Press. p. 30.
  13. "Katherine DeMille Quinn; Actress, Daughter of Cecil B. DeMille". Los Angeles Times. May 6, 1995. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  14. "Katherine DeMille Quinn, Actress, 83". The New York Times. Associated Press. May 6, 1995. Retrieved May 10, 2019.


  • Eyman, Scott (2010). Empire of Dreams: The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781439180419.
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