March 13, 1939 - February 19, 2019 Kathleen, called "Kitty" by all who loved her, went to heaven on February 19th. Pretty and popular throughout her life; every day was a good day in her mind and she brought that attitude to everyone she came in contact with. Kitty grew up in Brentwood, of Los Angeles, California. Her large family included three brothers, Bill Jr., Tim and Mike; three sisters, Pat, Cissy and Maggie.Her father was the legendary Hollywood filmmaker, William A. Wellman. Her mother, Dorothy Coonan Wellman, was not only an actress but a professional dancer of Hollywood musicals, many with Busby Berkeley, in the 1920's and 1930's.At the age of five, Kitty took ballet lessons which led to Jazz and Modern dance. She attended Westlake School for Girls, then Stephens College. She began a professional career with solo performances and dance companies. After traveling with a road company of The King and I, she married actor James Franciscus and gave up her career to be a wife and mother of her four beautiful daughters, Jamie, Kellie, Korie and Jolie. During her years with Jim, she became an accomplished tennis player competing in dozens of celebrity tournaments. Later, she enjoyed riding and training show horses. Jim Franciscus died July 8, 1991.Her daughters were by her side when cancer took their mother at age 79. Just like her Oscar-winning father, they missed their 80th birthdays by a matter of weeks. Kitty is survived by many nieces, nephews and grandchildren.
Published in Los Angeles Times from Feb. 21 to Feb. 22, 2019.