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Throck and the Kats: 1921

July 15, 1921. Cleon Throckmorton at the easel on the terrace of the Krazy Kat, an establishment described by the Washington Post two years earlier as "something like a Greenwich Village coffeehouse." Scroll down to the comments for more on "Throck," an engineering graduate who made his name designing sets for Eugene O'Neill's plays, and was the first art director for CBS in the early days of television. View full size. National Photo Company Collection.

July 15, 1921. Cleon Throckmorton at the easel on the terrace of the Krazy Kat, an establishment described by the Washington Post two years earlier as "something like a Greenwich Village coffeehouse." Scroll down to the comments for more on "Throck," an engineering graduate who made his name designing sets for Eugene O'Neill's plays, and was the first art director for CBS in the early days of television. View full size. National Photo Company Collection.


On Shorpy:
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Dare I say it?

The Kat in the hat

Kleon & Kat

Has anyone tried to research the other people besides Cleon? I know the cool looking flapper with the bandana, if that's what she would have called it, is Katherine 'Kat' Mullen, but nothing more about her besides, according to Wikipedia, her being a singer and ukulele player who was on radio programmes. And the others, not even a name.

There must be some audio somewhere of Katherine on the radio?

Katherine was Throck's first wife

A blog post, written earlier this year on Krazy Kat the cartoon by an Australian, has a reproduction of a Washington Times almost full page article from the July 5, 1922 edition on Cleon Throckmorton, again written by Victor Flambeau. There are two sketches of Mrs Katherine Throckmorton, one showing her in a short dress. Since the rather vampish woman who appears in all these Shorpy photographs shows a lot of leg compared to the other women, my guess is that Katherine is the woman that has intrigued male Shorpyites over the years.

However, I am even more intrigued by the wonderful handle, Cleon Throckmorton. I can well imagine the flourish with which he signed his name. Unless he dashed it off as Throck on the hotel register. The article explains how he took a $50 bet and turned it into an art career. Quite the Kat. And his educational background gives an idea how he erected a spindly treehouse that didn't fall down.

The relevant repro is a long way down the webpage. Here's a snippet:

"And only the other day he gave his friends, many of them, the biggest surprise of all, when he married, in New York, at the Little Church Around the Corner, the charming Miss Katherine Mullen, his beautiful model and pupil. Mrs Throckmorton who has already shown marked talent for drawing, will continue her studies, and will also collaborate with her husband in his work. The Krazy Kat Klub, which had been recently changed to "Throck's Studio" has now re-opened, and the elect of Washington's Bohemia regularly gather there."

Throckmorton's first wife?

It appears that Cleon Throckmorton was married twice. He married Katherine Mullen, his first wife, in New York "just the other day", according to a Washington Times article dated Feb. 5, 1922. She is described as a "young model and pupil". So, it seems much more likely to be her. I haven't found out how their marriage ended, but clearly she was out of the way by his 1927 marriage to Brenon. BTW: I have written a Wikipedia article on Throckmorton, so now he has one.

Juliet Brenon

Playing a hunch, I Googled the name "Juliet Brenon" and came up with this portrait photograph. It isn't definitive, but she looks an awful lot like the young model that Throckmorton is painting, i.e., the future Mrs. Throckmorton.

Throck's Genealogy

Cleon Francis "Throck" Throckmorton's maternal great-grandfather was U.S. Representative (R-VA) Charles Horace Upton (1820-1877), of Upton's Hill, Arlington, VA. Upton served only nine months in the House (1861-'62) and was ultimately denied a seat in Congress because an investigation revealed he was NOT a resident of Virginia. He was a resident of Zanesville, OH where he voted in the 1860 Presidential election. President Lincoln then appointed him Consul to Switzerland in 1863, where he served until his death in 1877.

Cleon Throckmorton art in Greenwich Village

Oh, boy, was I excited to see your Cleon Throckmorton pix. You see, Mr. Throckmorton's lusty dancing girl sketches are displayed at one of my favorite Greenwich Village eateries, Volare (147 West 4th Street). The proprietor, Sal, hipped us to the origin of these Reginald Marsh-style pictures that came with the joint when Volare took it over. (You can kinda see some on the NY Magazine slideshow -- third pic -- at )

Location background from the Songlines site sez "Ristorante Volare was Polly Holliday's, a noted Bohemian restaurant that moved to this building from around the corner on Macdougal Street. John Reed wrote 10 Days That Shook the World in a room upstairs. By 1939 it was known as Mother Bertolotti's. For the past 25 years it's been Volare. This building also housed the Whitney Studio Club, an art school and gallery."

Jeet Heer

The writer Jeet Heer has mentioned Shorpy's posts of the Krazy Kat, and noted that the place was also a haunt of gay people; it's mentioned in "Jeb & Dash", a rather amazing diary by a gay man living in 1920's DC.

(Jeet Heer writes the introductions for Chris Ware's gorgeously produced volumes of the "Gasoline Alley" comic strip- they're called "Walt & Skeezix", and they're up to Vol. 3, 1923-4. And they're delightful to a nostalgist like me.)

[Very interesting! Jeb Alexander, in his diary, writes that the Krazy Kat was a "Bohemian joint in an old stable up near Thomas Circle ... (where) artists, musicians, atheists, professors" gathered. But calling it a "haunt of gay people" just because someone who happened to be gay mentions in his diary that the Krazy Kat is a "Bohemian joint" seems like kind of a stretch. - Dave]


"Keeping a disorderly house," indeed. The place was probably *shocking* by contemporary standards. I'm with Laura where the model is concerned, the lady is stunningly attractive.

Juliet Brenon

Are we sure Juliet is the one pictured? Juliet & Throck were not engaged until 1927 in NYC. Here's the announcement:

Brenon Throckmorton Engagement

[No one is saying she's in the picture. But thanks for the info! - Dave]

Throck of Ages

For what it's worth...the SSDI lists her as follows:

JULIET THROCKMORTON 01 Sep 1895 Nov 1979

It would appear that IMDB is quite mistaken, Hollywood fudging notwithstanding.

Juliet's Obit

November 22, 1979 (NYT)


Juliet Brenon Throckmorton, a stage and screen actress in the 1920s, and widow of Cleon Throckmorton, a noted stage designer who worked closely with Eugene O'Neill, died Sunday at Cabrini Medical Center. She was 82 years old and lived in Manhattan. Mrs. Throckmorton had in recent years been a contributor to Yankeee magazine, writing, among other subjects, about Eugene O'Neill, E.E. Cummings and other well-known people who had frequented her husband's Greenwich Village studio.

Cleon & Juliet

Cleon's wife, Juliet St. John Brenon, according to her IMDB bio, was born in 1885, making her 37-ish during the time these photos were taken. Her uncle Herbert Brenon was a well-known silent film director who worked frequently with Cleon.

Apparently they had some connections to Society:

Baron Franz von Papen, three postcard autograph messages signed in the mid-1930s to American friend Mrs. Juliet Throckmorton in New York.

[Her November 1979 obituary in the New York Times gives her age at death as 82, which would mean she was born around 1897. Of course actresses (and actors) have been known to fudge their age. - Dave]


While looking online for his paintings I found this:

Throckmorton, Cleon (1897–1965), designer. Born in Atlantic City, he studied at Carnegie Tech and at George Washington University before embarking on a career as a landscape and figure painter. After a few years he turned to the theatre, assisted on the designs for The Emperor Jones (1920), and later created the sets for All God's Chillun Got Wings (1924), S.S. Glencairn (1924), In Abraham's Bosom (1926), Burlesque (1927), Porgy (1927), Another Language (1932), Alien Corn (1933), and others. By his retirement in the early 1950s he had designed sets for over 150 plays. Throckmorton also drew up architectural plans for such summer theatres as the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, Massachusetts, and the Westport (Connecticut) Country Playhouse.

Throckmorton Place $895K in '04! missed your chance to buy the Throckmorton home. From some 2004 Washington Blade (another gay connection!) classifieds...

LOGAN CIRCLE New listing! Fabulous renovated TH. 1.5
blks from Logan Circle, Whole Foods & more! 3 story TH w/
separate bsmt apt and 2 story owner’s unit w/ beautiful gar-
dens and deck. Live in 2 BR, 2.5 BA unit w/ hdwd flrs, lots of light,& lrg bathrooms. Rental 1 BR w/ private entrance. Great condo alternative. Must see! $895,000 OPEN SAT 5/15 &
SUN 5/16 (1 - 4 pm) 1536 Kingman Place. (202) 332-3228

Green Lantern

By coincidence, after reading about the Green Lantern here yesterday, I was watching a 1918 Charlie Chaplin comedy called "A Dog's Life", and noticed that the saloon in that film is called "Green Lantern".

It made me wonder if that phrase has some particular "folk meaning" or significance, or relevance to saloons or drinking, but I can't find anything on google but the comic book hero by that name.

About that Cigar & Mrs Throckmorton

The 1920 Washington Census shows Cleon's father, Ernest U. Throckmorton, as proprietor of a cigar shop. Could be it's true she was smoking a stogie? Other info on this sheet has the parents at 55 yrs old. Mother's name is Roberta, born in Indiana. Cleon was 22. Home address is 1536 Kingman Place (something) NW.

[According to his N.Y. Times obituary in 1965, Mom & Dad's full names were Ernest Upton and Roberta Cowing Throckmorton; Cleon was born October 18, 1897; his wife was the former Juliet St. John Brenon. - Dave]

Heart Stopping , Sucking In Air Great

This photo is so good on so many levels it hard to take it all in. Whew

A sword?

Looks like the lady on the table might have some future swashbuckling planned.

My new hero(ine)

... is the woman who is having her portrait done. Not only is she beautiful, but as evidenced in the other photos, she seemed to have a bit of a rebellious streak for daring to show so much skin (someone earlier referenced that she seemed to be wearing - *gasp!* - a miniskirt, in 1921.) That rules, in my book! Plus, she has such a coy look about her. It's fun to think that maybe she's a gypsy who has found the fountain of youth, and she's still roaming around and haunting places like Soho artists' lofts and tiny Parisian cafes, looking exactly the same now as she did then, smoking cigarettes and taking everything in through those dark eyes....

No Connection!

(Washington Post / Saturday, February 22, 1919


Carefree Bohemians Start Rough-House and Cop Raids Rendezvous.)

There is no connection ..... but the date of this Post article was the same day my father (bless his soul) was born.

This is good stuff Dave. Thank You.

Alley Kats

Is the alley in question Green Court, off 14th near Thomas Circle? I worked in one of the buildings on 14th and could look out on the alley which then, the '90s, housed the Green Lantern, a gay club. I think it became the Tool Shed.

Ahh, yes, looks like my hunch was correct...

From "Gay Life Remembered" by Bob Roehr in Independent Gay Forum...

Krazy Kat in 1920 was a "Bohemian joint in an old stable up near Thomas Circle ... (where) artists, musicians, atheists, professors" gathered. Miraculously the structure still stands, five blocks from the White House, as a gay bar called the Green Lantern.

Mrs. Throckmorton

Just a quick search of the 'Cleon Throckmorton' name dug up something kind of fun -- an archived letter to Time magazine from 1947.

Pages two and three have Mrs. Throckmorton's sister disputing TIME's claim that it was Mrs. Throckmorton photographed puffing a cigar at opera. If I'm chasing the right trail, Throckmorton married Juliet St. John Brenon. Her father was a (highly respected it would seem) NYC music critic, Algernon St. John Brenon. It would be cool to know if one of those girls was Juliet, wouldn't it?

I really do empathize...

with "Throck." My wife is always charging me with "keeping a disorderly house." I keep trying to tell her she just doesn't understand my absurdist aesthetic. It's not easy being a visionary, I guess.

Gaudy pictures evolved by futurists

What a great line, in a fascinating story. These women look dangerous to me; not just flappers, but vamps!


Google this guy. He was a major player in the theatre world. Very interesting.


I wonder if there is any chance the young lady he is painting became Mrs. Throckmorton.

Krazy Man

This is becoming quite the detective story! I cannot wait for the continuing adventures of Throckmorton & his crew. Given that the bust happened two years before these pictures, it seems that Cleon kept his establishment running for a while.

Thomas Circle looks, unfortunately, fairly well re-developed as of the last time Google snapped a picture.

I will be in DC in May (I grew up not far from Glen Echo Park, actually). I may take a little visit down to Thomas Circle to see if there are echoes of the Krazy Kat in some alley there...

[Throck was enrolled at GWU. Still to come: Photos of the alley. Which, coincidentally, is just a couple blocks from my day job of the past 13 years. - Dave]

Krazy Kat Raided!

Washington Post / Saturday, February 22, 1919


Carefree Bohemians Start Rough-House and Cop Raids Rendezvous.

Fourteen would-be Bohemians yesterday appeared in police court and demanded a jury trial on various charges preferred against them by Policeman Roberts, who, with the assistance of two night watchmen, raided the Krazy Kat, which is something like a Greenwich Village coffee house, in an alley near Thomas Circle.

Roberts, under orders to watch the rendezvous of the Bohemians, heard a shot fired in the Krazy Kat shortly after 1 o'clock yesterday morning. The watchmen were quickly pressed into service and a raiding party was organized.

When Roberts climbed the narrow stairway leading from a garage to the scene of trouble, he found himself in the dining room of the Krazy Kat, confronted with gaudy pictures evolved by futurists and impressionists and what appeared to the policeman to be a free-for-all fight.

At the Second Precinct police station 25 prisoners, including three women — self-styled artists, poets and actors, and some who worked for the government by day and masqueraded as Bohemians by night — were examined.

Those against whom charges were placed gave the following names:

John Don Allen, Cleon Throckmorton and John Stiffen, charged with keeping a disorderly house; Charles Flynn, drinking in public; J. Albion Blake, disorderly conduct; Walter Thomas, assault and disorderly conduct; Harry Rockelly, drinking in public; George Miltry, disorderly conduct; Mitchell McMahon, drinking in public; Joseph Ryon, disorderly; Anthony Hanley, drinking in public; Frank Moran, disorderly conduct, Leo Cohen, drinking in public and disorderly conduct, and Raymond Coombs, disorderly conduct.

February 17, 1957

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A $50 bet, an engineering diploma and a hobby turned Cleon Throckmorton from the world of structural design to a lucrative career in art.

A native of nearby Absecon, Throckmorton, now in semi-retirement, has designed settings for over 300 plays all because a friend bet him $50 he couldn't earn a living from art.

"A few of my artist friends and myself were kidding around years ago in a restaurant in Pittsburgh and I said anyone with an common sense could paint," he explained.

Art was his hobby and the bet was collected after two of his works were accepted by the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., for its semi-annual exhibit. "That made me really serious about art," he says.

Although he had just earned an engineering degree from Carnegie Tech, "Throck" started on a career in theatrical setting design and is still going strong here as a designer and painter of party backdrops for a beachfront hotel. Unlike the conventional artist, "Throck" uses gallon jugs of paint and does his work on the floor with a brush attached to a long bamboo pole.

Throckmorton, now 59, spends about six months each year at his Atlantic City work with the raimainder of his time scattered at spot jobs in Hollywood and New York.

October 25, 1965

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) Cleon Throckmorton, 68, who gained prominence as a set designer for playwright Eugene O'Neill, died Saturday in hospital after a brief illness. Throckmorton joined O'Neill at the Provincetown Playhouse in Massachusetts and prepared the sets for O'Neill's Emperor Jones, The Hairy Ape, and Beyond the Fringe, which were later produced at the Theatre Guild in New York. During the pioneering days of television, Throckmorton became the Columbia Broadcasting System's first art director. He is survived by his wife.

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