About Kathy McKee
I arrived in Hollywood in the spring of 1967 with a dream. I was experiencing my first taste of freedom. Without any definite plan in mind, I spent the next couple of months living carefree and studying acting with Mark Rydell at Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio West.
On a whim, I moved to Las Vegas and auditioned as a dancer, an area in which I had been training all my life. The review was called Vive Les Girls and the renowned choreographer Ron Lewis was enthusiastic. He hired me as a lead dancer/showgirl. I was given an advance, I found an apartment, bid farewell to my L.A. digs and so began my professional career. At a time when no cast performers in any Vegas theatrical show were of color, this young mixed girl was hired by passing for white.
While performing in Las Vegas during the late 1960s — also known as the Rat Pack era — I met my longtime friend and mentor, Mr. Sammy Davis Jr. (that's me and Sammy on-stage together pictured right). Soon after, I moved back to L.A. to pursue my acting career and was almost immediately offered a job by Sammy Davis to work as "The Mistress of Ceremonies" in his night club show.
During hiatus from Sammy and the road show, I began actively seeking acting roles and signed with my first theatrical agent in Los Angeles, the Dale Garrick Agency in 1967. I continued taking acting classes and studying whenever possible. I took classes at Tony Barr’s Film Actors Workshop in Los Angeles and when in New York, I was a regular at Herbert Bergdorf Studios. I also briefly participated in a very intense workshop run by Harold Clurman.
In 1971, I captured the lead role in a period picture called Quadroon, a Crown International Film shot on location in New Orleans' French Quarter over three long hot summer months in 1971.
I also began to get work as an actress on numerous television sitcoms and specials throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including Sanford & Son, Good Times and Police Woman. I have especially fond memories of working on a couple episodes of Sanford & Son. Demond Wilson is still a dear friend. Here are some brief snippets of us. Below left is from a 1972 episode titled, The Dowry, with Redd Foxx. And to the right is from a 1974 episode titled, Hello Cousin Emma, Goodbye Cousin Emma with Whitman Mayo. It was great fun.
Sanford & Son
The Dowry (1972)
Hello Cousin Emma, Goodbye Cousin Emma (1974)
In 1975, I appeared with Richard Pryor as a guest star on the second episode of a new comedy show called Saturday Night Live. Soon after, I met Burt Sugarman, the producer of Pryor's NBC special. He learned of my interest in working behind the camera and hired me for pre-production and casting of the first televised Miss Black America Pageant for NBC.
In 1977, I welcomed the opportunity to work & travel with CEO Sandy Frank of Sandy Frank Entertainment, a prominent film producer and television executive. We flew to Israel and Egypt for meetings with Menachem Begin and Anwar Al-Sadat in the early phases of pre-production for a film about the 1978 Peace Agreement that Frank was producing. After many long months abroad I returned to Los Angeles and continued my freelance work for Sandy Frank Entertainment by casting You Ask For It, Name That Tune, and Face The Music until the mid 1980s.
I met Jerry O’Flanagan, a Los Angeles television producer, at a party in 1979. He said he had an idea for a new morning talk show and asked me to meet with him and actor and stand-up comedian Sandy Barron (pictured with me to the right) to see how we worked together on-screen. We hit it off immediately and were a sensational team. Our program was shot at KHJ Television (the old Desilu Studio on the Paramount lot) and was called Good Morning L.A.
We held our audience captive for two hours "live" each day, five days a week, for two consecutive years and received good local ratings. During this same period, I was put under contract with the top William Morris Agency, and the timing could not have been better. I followed my L.A. talk show with a stint as guest host at ABC television's A.M. New York and A. M. Boston, both very popular live morning talk shows.
It was 1981 when my talk show ended and I went back to my work behind the camera. I worked in casting on Body and Soul for Leon Isaac Kennedy, Enter the Ninja, and assisted casting on Death Wish II.
During this nice quiet restful period, I did some serious soul-searching and decided again to change course in my career, stop traveling so much and settle down. As a single parent, my priorities had shifted to my precious son, Khristopher. We settled down at home in Michigan with my small family and I began to work on a seminar/workshop idea that I had been thinking about since the late 1970s.
I wanted to teach actors how to succeed in show business. One thing I know about this business is that it takes more that just talent — that’s why they call it show business! I founded the Creative Artist Network, which became the center for all my programs and casting. We offered a fundamentals of acting class, career development, and motivational seminars. In 1991, I was invited to Michigan Tech University to host my lecture series.
I've continued with the lectures & seminars throughout ever since. My program has been offered by the City of Southfield Cultural Arts Center, the Southfield Parks & Recreation Division, and The Community House in Birmingham, MI. Most recently, I have been hosting my Actors 411 Workshops at the Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts.
In 2001, I was hired by Billy Crystal and HBO Films to work as a casting assistant on his film 61*. Soon after, Universal Studios hired me as a second unit casting assistant on Hard Ball. I was also a Michigan liaison for casting director, Mali Finn. The casting bug had bitten again and it's truly where my passion for this business is today. Most recently, I cast several roles in the upcoming feature film, Miss January, and have many other projects in the works!
Creative Artist Network is registered with the State of Michigan’s film production guide. I am a 32-year member of The Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and the American Guild of Variety Artists.
Organic Casting Detroit
Casting for feature film Monica Velour directed by Keith Bearden Starring Kim Cattrel.
Kathy proudly supports the following causes.
The National Anti Vivisection Society
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Save the children
The Oakland Community Mental Health Association
Call 248-798-7902 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.