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Mills women on stage and screen By Jessica Langlois, MFA ’10

I

n 1981, Kathryn Harrold

and Treat Williams were on the run from Robert Duvall. They were on the set of The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper, one of the many early eighties films Harrold starred in, and one of the many times the young actress found herself causing a stir. “The director would say, ‘Treat, take Kathryn’s hand. Help her do it. Help her.’ So, I was always being pulled along behind, and I just kept saying, ‘You know what? I totally have got this. I can run, I can get on this horse by myself, and I think I can even fight these guys if I

also found the acting profession to be a

and circus arts in Berkeley. In the early

need to,’” Harrold recalls. Eventually, the

way for people to be held accountable to

’70s, she went to New York, where she

director listened, and Harrold considered

one another and to themselves, as well

studied with acting legends Sanford

it one small victory in her 35-year career

as a means of practicing empathy and

Meisner, Ute Hagen, and André Gregory.

as an actress. Throughout her time in

questioning social assumptions. As Carter

But it wasn’t long before she was swept

Hollywood, she almost always worked

says, “Theater creates a space where we’re

from New York’s experimental theater

with male writers, male directors, and

all human together.”

scene on to the silver screen. She was cast

all-male crews, and she often felt called

on the soap The Doctors and, by the late

upon to stand her ground when she was

Theater as therapy

told what a woman would or wouldn’t do.

Kathryn

classic

New York and Los Angeles, appearing

“I was very fierce. I was determined. I felt

Hollywood look—high cheekbones, large

in such popular television shows as The

at the time like a feminist—and I still do

doe eyes, and sculpted ash-blond hair—

Rockford Files and Starsky and Hutch,

today,” Harrold says.

which at one point led her to play the role

whose star, Paul Michael Glaser, she hap-

Along with Elizabeth Carter ’92 and

of Lauren Bacall. Drawn from rural

pened to meet over brunch. This lucky

Anna Ishida ’05, Harrold is among the

Appalachia to the countercultural vibe of

break was “kind of goofy,” but it cata-

many Mills alumnae who have estab-

the San Francisco Bay Area, with its flower

pulted her career forward, says Harrold.

lished careers in acting, and who have

children and Vietnam War protests,

She began to get leads in feature films

found theater and film to be vital ven-

Harrold majored in literature and dra-

and TV movies, though the atmosphere

ues for women to explore emotions they

matic arts at Mills while studying mime

of a movie set was a far cry from the

might otherwise suppress. They have

in San Francisco, movement at Stanford,

camaraderie she’d felt on the small New

10 

M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY

Harrold

’72

has

’70s, she was dividing her time between a

Profile for Mills Quarterly

Mills Quarterly, Fall 2014  

Fall 2014 Mills College alumnae magazine

Mills Quarterly, Fall 2014  

Fall 2014 Mills College alumnae magazine