Gail Kane

Gail Kane

Gail Kane (July 10, 1885February 17, 1966) was a stage and silent movie actress from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her birth name was Abigail.

Kane was 5'7" tall, weighed 142 pounds, and had dark brown hair and eyes. She attended a private school in Newburgh, New York, but eschewed additional education to become an actress. She became a dedicated student of the art of pantomime.

Theatrical actress

Kane performed at the Lyceum Theatre in "Heap Game Watch" in January 1914. She had a significant role in "Seven Keys To Baldpate Astor", which was staged at the Gaiety Theatre, London, in May 1914. The comedy was brought to the stage by George M. Cohan. She paired with George Nash in "The Miracle Man" at the Astor Theatre. The play was produced on Broadway in the fall of 1914.

Kane acted in a presentation of "The Hyphen Knickerbocker" in April 1915. She returned to the stage at the Broadhurst Theatre in July 1920. She was paired with Earle Fox, another actor whohad been spending much of his time in movies. They appeared in the comedy "Come Seven". The production was an adaptation by Octavus Roy Cohen of stories he had contributed to The Saturday Evening Post. The play was the first ever featuring an entirely caucasiancast in black face.

"Lawful Larceny" (1922) was a comedy adapted from the writing of Samuel Shipman. It was presented at the Republic Theater, built by Oscar Hammerstein in 1900, at 42nd Street (Manhattan). The playersincluded Kane, Margaret Lawrence, Ida Waterman, and Lowell Sherman.

"The Breaking Point" by Mary Roberts Rinehart was staged at theKlaw Theater, West 45th Street, New York City, in August 1923.The plot concerned amnesia with the setting (fiction) moving from New York to Wyoming and back. Kane, Regina Wallace, Reginald Barlow, and McKay Morris were the principal actors in the drama.

The Booth Theatre produced "Paid", written by Sam Forrest, in November 1925. Kane portrayed "Mrs John Ramsey" in a play which endured for twenty-one performances.


Kane was arrested following a performance of "The Captive" at the Empire Theater on Broadway (Manhattan) in February 1927. The production was considered indecent and a violation ofSection 1140A of the New York City Criminal Code.

Forty-one arrests were made in total. Two other productions were raided on the same night. Theywere "Sex", playing at Daly's 63rd St. Theater, and "The Virgin Man", which was being performed before an audience at the Princess Theater.

Among the actors taken to Night Court were Basil Rathbone, Ann Trevor, Winifred Fraser, Helen Menken, John Miltern, and Arthur Lewis. "The Captive" had been tried and acquitted of immorality a short time earlier by a citizen's play jury. It was in its fifth month of production.

Menken was comforted by Kane as she made her exit. She became agitatedby the "glares and explosions as she stepped out on the sidewalk. Please make them stop," she exclaimed. Also arrested was Mae West, the star of "Sex", and twenty others among a cast of fifty.Authorities promised to repeat the arrests if the plays were not withdrawn or modified to comply with the criminal code.

Movie career

Her movie career spanned much of the silent era, beginning with a role as "Bonita Canby", in "Arizona" (1913). In the western she had the third lead, portraying the unfaithful wife of a U.S. Cavalry officer.

"Via Wireless" (1915) is adapted from a play by Winchell Smith andPaul Armstrong. The story describes the competition between two menin the invetion of a new naval gun. A wealthy man becomes the rival of one of the inventors for the affection of the daughter of an ironmaster.As "Frances Durant", Kane is finally given a part worthy of her skillas an actress. One critic described her as "a diamond set in brass" inher previous films.

Kane was employed by the Mutual Film Corporation of Santa Barbara, California when she made "The Upper Crust" (1917). Produced by Mutual-American, Edward Pell is castas Kane's leading man in a comedy replete with humor. Kane is a young Irish woman named "Molly O'Toole". She impersonates a wealthy dowager and succeeds in her ruse long enough to enjoy herself and eventually marry the dowager's son.

In July 1917 Kane joined an effort organized by William A. Brady, President of the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry, and D.W. Griffith. Their task was to utilize film as a tool of information regarding the "plans and purposes" of the United States in World War I.Brady was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to mobilize the motion-picture industry. Kane was assigned to the Food Commission.

In addition to Mutual she was associated with Metro Pictures, Pathe, and World. Kane filed a suit against Mutual in 1918, asking $33,500 for alleged breach of contract.

"The Scarlet Oath" (1917) was a challenging movie for Kane who played the dual role of two women. "A Game of Wits" (1917) is a five-reel comedy with Kane portraying "Jeannette Browning" in a unique love story.

She continued to act in motion pictures for another decade. Among her later movies are "Love's Law" (1918), "The Daredevil" (1918), "Someone Must Pay" (1919), "Romeo's Dad" (1919), "Empty Arms" (1920), "Idle Hands" (1921), "The White Sister" (1923), and "Convoy" (1927).

Private life

Kane's husband, Henry Iden Ottman, died in January 1939. Ottman was born in New York City in 1880, the son of William Ottman and Christine Iden. Ottman moved to Augusta, Maine in 1921. Kane and Ottman had a son,William Kane Ottman.

She owned a collection of scarab beetles considered to be one of the finest in America in 1917. The most valuable of the Scarabaeus sacer is said to have been removed from the tomb of an Egyptian princess of the 2nd Ptolemaic dynasty. Archaeologists believe it to be one of a number issued to illustrate the doctrine of the resurrection.

Kane was given her first scarab by Howard Estabrook, who played "Adhemar de Gratignan" in "Divorcons" (1913). Presented at the New York Playhouse, Kane portrayed "Mme. de Brionne" in the play written by the French dramatist Victorien Sardou. Estabrook purchased the scarab in India while he was touring.

She collected bathing suits. Kane possessed one of the most attractive collections of one-piece, two-piece, and "fluffy ruffles seashore outfits" in Chicago, Illinois by 1917. Each bathing suit was also designed by her.

Kane was enthusiastic about outdoor activities like riding horses, swimming, and driving cars.

Gail Kane died in Augusta, Maine in 1966.


* cite news| publisher=Warren Evening Mirror |title=Theatres |date=October 25, 1917 |page=8

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