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Famous Like Me > Actress > K > Anita King

Profile of Anita King on Famous Like Me

Name: Anita King  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 14th August 1891
Place of Birth: Indiana, USA
Profession: Actress
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Anita King, 1915

Anita King (August 14, 1884 – June 10, 1963) was an American racecar driver, actress, and thoroughbred racehorse owner.

Born Anna Keppen to German immigrants in Michigan City, Indiana, her father committed suicide in 1896 when she was twelve years old and two years later her mother died of pulmonary tuberculosis. Left an impoverished orphan, Anna Keppen went to work as a house servant and in her late teens moved to Chicago. There, the attractive young girl found employment doing modeling and acting in minor parts in live theatre.

Around 1908 she moved to the West Coast where she developed a fascination with powerful cars after working as a model at California auto shows. Anna Keppen soon learned to drive and by the early 1910s was competing in auto races. Following her hospital recovery from an accident in a race in Phoenix, Arizona she gave up on competitive racing and, with the rapid growth of the Hollywood film industry, returned to acting using the stage name Anita King. Her live theatre experience opened the door to small roles with the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Company under director Cecil B. DeMille that evolved to good secondary parts in comedy films.

Anita King film stunt

In 1915, Anita King decided to put her automobile driving experience to the test and set out to become the first female to drive alone across the continental United States. With the backing of studio boss Jesse L. Lasky, and his newly formed Paramount Pictures, they got the Kissel Motor Car Company to provide her with a vehicle equipped with Firestone tires. Dubbed "The Paramount Girl," amidst much publicity on August 25th she set out in her "Kissel Kar" from Paramount's studio in Hollywood. The Los Angeles Times newspaper is reported to have written a story that said "There will be nobody with her at any time on the trip. Her only companions will be a rifle and a six shooter." First heading north to San Francisco, Anita King spent several days doing publicity appearances at the Panama-Pacific World's Fair. With even more fanfare, and declaring that "if men can do it, so can a woman," she headed east. After many promotional stops along the way, and coverage by major newspapers coast to coast, forty-nine days later on October 19th Anita King received a hero's welcome in New York City with one newspaper remarking that she had arrived with California "air" in her tires.

Anita King's accomplishment made her a major national celebrity and Paramount Studios quickly began production with director George Melford of a movie version of her trip titled, "The Race." King made numerous public appearances on behalf of the studio, the Kissel Car Company, and for Firestone tires, doing daredevil auto stunts and being photographed with the likes of Barney Oldfield driving his famous "Golden Submarine." She used her fame to do charitable works and helped organize a recreation club for young girls trying to get a start in the film business. In 1918, when the U.S. had become involved in World War I, she made a national speaking tour on behalf of the war effort, driving alone across the southern part of the United States from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C..

Anita King appeared in fourteen films while at Paramount, including four with major star Wallace Reid, but in 1918 left to work with Triangle Film Corporation and other studios. She made her last film in 1919 and with the rapid changes in automotive technology plus new and more spectacular racing events happening, she quickly faded from the public eye. In the early 1930s, she married Timothy M. McKenna, a wealthy steelmaker. Widowed in the 1940s, she became part of the Hollywood elite, joining such others as Louis B. Mayer and William Goetz as owners of thoroughbred racehorses. In 1951, jockey Johnny Longden rode her colt "Moonrush" to victory in the Santa Anita Handicap, a Grade 1 stakes race that is the most important race for older horses in North America during the winter racing season.

Anita King died of a heart attack in 1963 at her home in Hollywood and is interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

External link

  • Anita King at the Internet Movie Database
  • Lincoln Highway Museum feature on Anita King's transcontinental run

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Anita King