Kathleen Burke

Kathleen B. Burke (September 5, 1913 – April 9, 1980) was an American movie actress of the 1930s and former model.

Kathleen B. Burke
Kathleen Burke Photoplay 1936.jpg
Kathleen Burke for Photoplay magazine, 1936
Born(1913-09-05)September 5, 1913
DiedApril 9, 1980(1980-04-09) (aged 66)
Columbus Hospital, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Years active1932–1938
Spouse(s)Glen Nelson Rardin (1933–1934) (divorced)
Jose Torres Fernandez (1936–?) (divorced) 1 child
Forrest L. Smith

Early yearsEdit

Born in Hammond, Indiana,[1] in 1913,[citation needed] Burke was a graduate of Hammond High School.[2] She moved with her parents to Chicago when she was 15, and she acted in amateur productions there.[1] She worked as a dental assistant in Chicago.


Burke was a fashion model and acted on radio in Chicago[3] before winning a talent contest sponsored by Paramount Pictures to play Lota the Panther Woman in Island of Lost Souls (1932), the first sound film adaptation of H.G. Wells's novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. The contest, announced in July 1932, reportedly had 60,000 applicants from around the country.[4] Burke was announced as the winner on September 29.

This success led to more than a score of screen appearances over the following six years, most notably as the leading lady in The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935) opposite Gary Cooper, and The Last Outpost with Cary Grant that same year.[5] Her final film role was in 1938, whereupon she retired from screen acting at the age of 25.

By the early 1940s, Burke sought to escape the Panther Woman image by acting on stage in other kinds of roles. In 1942, she acted in both a drama, Night Must Fall, and a comedy, Yes, My Darling Daughter in summer theater at Great Neck, New York.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

Burke married Glenn Rardin, a photographer whose pictures of her helped her to win a nationwide Panther Girl contest. They separated less than two months after the wedding, reconciled, then separated again[7] and eventually divorced on November 8, 1934.[8] She was also married to Jose Fernandez, a Spanish dancer from Mexico.[3] Her last marriage was to Forrest Smith, who survived her.[9]


Burke died on April 9, 1980, in Chicago, at age 66.[10]

Partial filmographyEdit


  1. ^ a b Talata, Gelal (June 16, 1935). "Ex-Panther Woman". Detroit Free Press. Michigan, Detroit. p. Screen & Radio Weekly - 3. Retrieved January 14, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ McKinlay, Arch (November 26, 2006). "Hammond grad was purrfect actress". The Times. Indiana, Munster. p. 57. Retrieved April 29, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b Hughes, Alice (July 12, 1940). "A Woman's New York". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Texas, Fort Worth. p. 4. Retrieved April 29, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Kathleen Burke Is Signed for Holt Film". Star Tribune. Minnesota, Minneapolis. March 24, 1935. p. 31. Retrieved January 14, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Getty Images
  6. ^ Barron, Mark (July 18, 1942). "Kathleen Burke Seeks Freedom From 'Panther Woman' Label". Salt Lake Telegram. Utah, Salt Lake City. Wide World. p. 8. Retrieved April 29, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Thomas, Dan (December 1, 1935). "Somebody Jinxed the Romances of the Cameramen and the Stars". Arizona Republic. Arizona, Phoenix. Every Week Magazine. p. 38. Retrieved April 29, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Divorce won by actress". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. November 9, 1934. p. 23. Retrieved April 29, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Services planned for movie star Kathleen Burke". Arizona Republic. Arizona, Phoenix. Associated Press. April 12, 1980. p. 38. Retrieved April 29, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Kathleen Burke". The Muscatine Journal. Iowa, Muscatine. July 1, 1980. p. 114. Retrieved April 29, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.

External linksEdit